Journals Higher Education



25 October 2001

280 Pages

ISBN: 9780199243723

Bookseller Code (06)

The Syntax of Silence

Sluicing, Islands, and the Theory of Ellipsis

Jason Merchant

Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics

A primary goal of contemporary theoretical linguistics is to develop a theory of the correspondence between sound (or gesture) and meaning. This sound-meaning correspondence breaks down completely in the case of ellipsis, and yet various forms of ellipsis are pervasive in natural language: words and phrases which should be in the linguistic signal go missing. How this should be possible is the focus of Jason Merchant's investigation. He focuses on the form of ellipsis known as sluicing, a common feature of interrogative clauses, such as in 'Sally's out hunting - guess what!'; and 'Someone called, but I can't tell you who'. It is the most frequently found cross-linguistic form of ellipsis. Dr Merchant studies the phenomenon across twenty-four languages, and attempts to explain it in linguistic and behavioral terms.


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