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Catherine Fortin: In Defense of LF Copying: Some Whys and Hows

December 3, 2010 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm  |  Stevenson Fireside Lounge


Abstract: It is well known that the distribution of wh-remnants in sluices, unlike the distribution of wh-phrases in non-elliptical questions, is largely immune to island effects, as illustrated by the contrast below.
(1) Irv and someone were dancing together, but I don’t know who. (Ross 1969)
(2) * Irv and someone were dancing together, but I don’t know whoj [DP Irv and tj] were dancing together.

Within generative syntactic frameworks, the generation of sluicing uncontroversially involves some type of ellipsis, but the exact nature of the ellipsis remains an open question. The two primary approaches to sluicing, ‘PF Deletion’ (Ross 1969, Merchant 2001, inter alia) and ‘LF Copying’ (Chung, Ladusaw, and McCloskey 1995 (CLM), Lobeck 1995, inter alia), differ fundamentally in their account of the above contrast. Under PF Deletion, sluices are derived identically to non-elliptical questions, via wh-movement, and islandhood is a property of PF representations only. Under LF Copying, in contrast, wh-remnants are base-generated clause-peripherally.

In this talk, I have three goals. First, I seek to provide fresh motivation, assuming a standard Minimalist framework (Chomsky 1995, 2008), for LF Copying. Second, I propose the outline of a Minimalist-minded LF Copying approach. Finally, I argue that this approach uniquely accounts for the empirical problem posed by languages which subvert the Preposition Stranding Generalization (Merchant 2001), which predicts that only languages which allow preposition stranding in non-elliptical questions will allow prepositions to be deleted under sluicing.

Presented by the Linguistics Research Center, UCSC. For more information, please contact Debbie Belville at


December 3, 2010
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm


Stevenson Fireside Lounge
Humanites 1 University of California, Santa Cruz Cowell College
Santa Cruz, CA 95064 United States
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