Sloppy Identity, VP Ellipsis, and Null Anaphora


Kang, Nam-Kil

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One of the central doctrines of VP ellipsis and null anaphora is that they relate sloppy identity. The way they are hypothesized to do so is by postulating ambiguity of interpretation in the complete clause, or by treating null objects as a kind of VP ellipsis. What we have been arguing here is focussed on such semantic questions. However, it should be pointed out that there are problems at the very heart of the two analyses we have dealt with here. Attractive though the two analyses might be, they are empirically incorrect. Several problems are worth mentioning regarding them. First, the lambda abstraction-based approaches should always postulate ambiguity of interpretation in the complete clause that serves as a source for the elliptical clause. To put it differently, they require hidden ambiguity and the derivation of their rules is too procedural. Second, as stated in the course of our discussion, the lambda abstraction-based approaches and the equation-solving approach cannot account for the existence of the mixed reading under VP ellipsis. Third, the parallelism between the availability of the sloppy reading and that of a bound variable interpretation for a pronoun is not consistent. The sloppy reading can in fact arise independently of bound variable anaphora. Fourth, the NOC in Korean does not necessarily yield sloppy readings in the contexts where English VP ellipsis does. A further problem is that the NOC in Korean seems to require a different treatment. The results observed in this paper suggest that the NOC in Korean cannot be treated as analogous to VP ellipsis in English. Apart from theoretical considerations, there are empirical problems with the analysis treating the NOC in Korean as analogous to VP ellipsis in English.


I. Introduction and Theoretical Assumptions
 II. Previous Approaches to VP ellipsis and Null Anaphora
  2.1. Lambda Abstraction-based Approaches
  2.2. The Equation-Solving Approach
 III. Problems of the Previous Approaches and Further Semantic Points
  3.1. Mixed Reading
  3.2. Null Objects and Common Reference
  3.3. The VP Ellipsis Analysis of Null Anaphora
 IV. Conclusion
 Works Cited


  • Kang, Nam-Kil 강남길. Far East University


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