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Modal Complement Ellipsis and Deletion in Narrow Syntax



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Modal complement ellipsis and deletion in narrow syntax Keywords VP ellipsis narrow syntax deletion Dutch vs English 1 INTRODUCTION This paper starts out from the novel observation that Dutch displays a limited kind of VP ellipsis in the complement of deontic modal verbs modal complement ellipsis or MCE as in 1 I claim a that these data involve ellipsis of VoiceP b that this ellipsis process takes place in narrow syntax and c that ellipsis licensing is subject to syntactic locality not adjacency As a result the projections inbetween the licensing head and the elided constituent play a crucial role in determining what can be extracted out of the ellipsis site 2 PUZZLE PROFORM OR DELETION There are at least two possible analyses for the phenomenon in 1 deletion of syntactic structure or a null proform A central argument to decide between the two concerns the possibility of extraction out of the ellipsis site If such extraction is allowed there must be enough syntactic structure present to host the trace if extraction is impossible this can be attributed to the lack of internal syntactic structure i e the presence of a proform Dutch MCE disrupts this simple picture however while objects cannot be extracted out of the ellipsis site cf 2 subjects can cf 3 Since modals are raising verbs see Wurmbrand 2003 for argumentation the subject in 3 has indeed been extracted out of the ellipsis site Hence the data in 2 and 3 taken together suggest that neither deletion nor a proform approach gives us the right result I show however that an analysis involving deletion in narrow syntax can account for these conflicting extraction data 3 ANALYSIS Deletion in narrow syntax Deletion in narrow syntax comes about as follows the head H of the constituent that will be elided bears an interpretable ellipsis feature iE comparable to Merchant s 2001 2004 E feature The ellipsis licensing head L bears a matching uninterpretable ellipsis feature uE When L is merged its ellipsis feature is checked



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