Maziar Toosarvandani, MIT

Thursday, February 7th, 12 noon, Humanities 1 Building, Room 210

Gapping is VP Ellipsis    

Where does the gap in gapping -- e.g. Some had ordered mussels, and others swordfish -- come from? The traditional answer is deletion (Ross 1970, Hankamer 1979, among others). Johnson (2009) presents a formidable challenge to this view. He argues that gapping cannot arise through deletion because gapping has several unique properties that distinguish it from more familiar deletion operations, such as VP-ellipsis. Instead, Johnson proposes that the gap in gapping arises through ‘low coordination’ -- coordination of vPs -- and across-the-board movement.

First, I argue that across-the-board movement cannot be a general account of gapping, since it is not able to derive the gap in coordination structures with corrective but (Vicente 2010, Toosarvandani, to appear). Then, I revive a version of the deletion account,  in which gapping is VP-ellipsis in a low-coordination structure. This correctly generates gapping in corrective but sentences. Moreover, once the information-structural properties of low coordinations are taken into consideration -- low coordinates must have parallel focus structures -- it also accounts for the unique properties of gapping.


Ross, John Robert. 1970. Gapping and the order of constituents. In Progress in linguistics, eds. Manfred Bierwisch and Karl Erich Heidolph, 249-259. The Hague: Mouton de Gruyter.
Hankamer, Jorge. 1979. Deletion in coordinate structures. New York: Garland Publishing.
Johnson, Kyle. 2009. Gapping is not (VP-)ellipsis. Linguistic Inquiry 40:289-328.
Toosarvandani, Maziar. To appear. Corrective but coordinates clauses not always but sometimes. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory.
Vicente, Luis. 2010. On the syntax of adversative coordination. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 28:381-415.