The Sticky Reading: VP Ellipsis Without Parallel Binding

Patrick D. Elliott, Andreea Nicolae, Yasutada Sudo


Abstract VP Ellipsis (VPE) whose antecedent VP contains a pronoun famously gives rise to an ambiguity between strict and sloppy readings. Since Sag’s (1976) seminal work, it is generally assumed that the strict reading involves free pronouns in both the elided VP and its antecedent, whereas the sloppy reading involves bound pronouns. The majority of current approaches to VPE are tailored to derive this parallel binding requirement, ruling out mixed readings where one of the VPs involves a bound pronoun and the other a free pronoun in parallel positions. Contrary to this assumption, it is observed that there are cases of VPE where the antecedent VP contains a bound pronoun but the elided VP contains a free E-type pronoun anchored to the quantifier, in violation of parallel binding. We dub this the ‘sticky reading’ of VPE. To account for it, we propose a new identity condition on VPE which is less stringent than is standardly assumed. We formalize this using an extension of Roberts’s (2012) Question under Discussion (QuD) theory of information structure.

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