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date: 05 December 2023

Ellipsis in the Romance Languageslocked

Ellipsis in the Romance Languageslocked

  • José M. Brucart, José M. BrucartCLT-Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Ángel J. GallegoÁngel J. GallegoCLT-Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  •  and Javier Fernández-SánchezJavier Fernández-SánchezUniwersytet Gdański


Linguistic expressions are complex objects that consist of sound and meaning. However, it is well known that certain linguistic expressions that convey meaning may lack sound, given the appropriate context. Consider the string John a book: Without a previous context, the sequence cannot be interpreted as propositional; however, when such string constitutes the second conjunct in a coordination structure as in Mary read a paper and John a book, it then receives full propositional content. More specifically, the second conjunct is unequivocally interpreted as John read a book, not as John wrote a book or John will read a book, for example.

These phenomena, which involve meaning without sound, fall within the domain of ellipsis. Ellipsis is pervasive across languages, although its existence poses an obvious challenge to the dual nature of linguistic expressions as pairs of sound and meaning (note that, in a sense, ellipsis phenomena are the flipside of expletive elements like the pronoun it in it snows, which involve sound without meaning). Precisely because of its theoretical relevance, it has always occupied a privileged position in the linguistic literature. Although English has played a crucial role in the inquiry on ellipsis, more languages, including Romance languages, have been increasingly considered to strengthen the empirical validity of the various theories available. The goal of this article is twofold: first, to show how Romance languages can contribute to our theoretical understanding of ellipsis and, second, to discuss the various issues regarding parametric variation within Romance in the domain of nominal, verbal, and clausal ellipsis.


  • Syntax

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