Missing antecedents found

Philip Miller, Barbara Hemforth, Pascal Amsili, Gabriel Flambard


Numerous papers have used so-called 'missing antecedent phenomena' as a criterion for distinguishing deep and surface anaphora. Specifically, only the latter are claimed to licence pronouns with missing antecedents. These papers also argue that missing antecedent phenomena provide evidence that surface anaphora involve unpronounced syntactic structure in the ellipsis site. The present paper suggests that the acceptability judgments on which the argument is based exhibit a confound because they do not take discourse conditions on VPE (a surface anaphor) and VPA (a deep anaphor) into account. Two acceptability experiments provide evidence that what is relevant to the judgments are the discourse conditions and not the presence of deep vs. surface anaphors, casting doubt on the reliability of missing antecedent phenomena as a criterion for deep vs. surface status.


ellipsis; VP ellipsis; VP anaphora; missing antecedents; deep and surface anaphora; acceptability experiments; discourse conditions; question under discussion

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v5i1.4795

Copyright (c) 2020 Philip Miller, Barbara Hemforth, Pascal Amsili, Gabriel Flambard

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