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  • A Restriction on Vehicle Change and Its Interaction with Movement
  • Tim Hunter and Masaya Yoshida

This squib presents a restriction on the phenomenon descriptively known as “vehicle change” that has not, to our knowledge, previously been noted. With vehicle change construed as a kind of “tolerable mismatch” between an ellipsis site and its antecedent, the data we present suggest that exactly the same mismatches cannot be tolerated between the members of a movement chain. While in principle one might consider the possibility that ellipsis and movement could be reduced to the same operation (Chomsky 1995:252–253)—that the deletion usually described as ellipsis might be the same operation as the deletion or “chopping” (in the sense of Ross 1967) that applies to the unpronounced (usually lower) copy in a movement chain—the differences in the kinds of mismatches that can be tolerated will pose a difficulty for this unification.

We present the crucial data that suggest that such a unification is not tenable in section 1 and then outline an explanation of these facts in section 2. We state this explanation in terms of the way movement, ellipsis, and vehicle change interact, while remaining largely agnostic about the exact mechanisms that implement these somewhat pretheoretic notions. In section 3, we consider the consequences for these more fine-grained questions about the nature of ellipsis and movement, and in section 4, we consider some further implications that depend on how vehicle change is understood. Section 5 addresses a challenge for our proposed explanation that turns out to be only illusory, and section 6 briefly concludes.

1 The Key Contrast

The crucial facts in what follows concern instances of “stripping” or “bare argument ellipsis” (Depiante 2000, Fiengo and May 1994, Hankamer and Sag 1976, Lobeck 1995, May 1991, McCawley 1998, Merchant 2004, Nakao 2009, Reinhart 1991). Two simple examples [End Page 561] of intrasentential stripping are shown in (1). Corresponding examples of cross-sentential stripping are shown in (2).

  1. (1).

    1. a. Mary ate apples yesterday, but not John.

    2. b. Mary ate apples yesterday, but not oranges.

  2. (2).

    1. a. A: Mary ate apples yesterday.

      B: Yeah, but not John.

    2. b. A: Mary ate apples yesterday.

      B: Yeah, but not oranges.

We will refer to the contrasted material that appears after not in these examples as the remnant. In (1a) and (2a), the remnant John is contrasted with the subject Mary; in (1b) and (2b), the remnant oranges is contrasted with the object apples.

Following Depiante (2000), Merchant (2004), and Nakao (2009), we will analyze these stripping constructions as a combination of focus movement and ellipsis. Specifically, we will assume that they are derived by fronting the remnant out of a clause that parallels the preceding clause, and then TP-ellipsis of the evacuated clause. This analysis is therefore analogous to common analyses of sluicing, the difference being that it is focus movement rather than wh-movement that moves the remnant out of the ellipsis site. This is illustrated in (3), which shows the structures we assume for the relevant parts of (1) and (2). The elided TP is shown in gray, and the remnant is shown struck-out in its base position.

  1. (3).

    1. a. … not John John ate apples yesterday.

    2. b. … not oranges Mary ate oranges yesterday.

From this point on, we will focus on cross-sentential instances of stripping, in order to ensure that any syntactic dependencies we detect involving the remnant are wholly contained within the elided clause.1 But as far as we are aware, the generalizations that we report can all be replicated with intrasentential stripping, and to the extent that this is the case, it seems reasonable to suppose that the two constructions should receive a common analysis.

Given this background, the central fact we will focus on is the contrast between (4a) and (4b). The remnant in (4a), whether he or him, is to be understood as the subject of say; him is much more natural, but we will often write it as he to make clear that it is the subject of the elided clause.

  1. (4).

    1. a. A: Someone said that John1 left.

      B: Yeah, but not he1/him1.

    2. b. A: He...


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