Polarity reversals under sluicing

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Margaret Kroll


This paper presents novel English sluicing data that challenge even the most successful existing theories of the relationship between antecedent and elided content in sluicing constructions. The data supply robust evidence for a previously unobserved phenomenon in which the elided content and antecedent content in a sluicing construction contain opposite polarity. The data challenge current accounts of identity conditions on ellipsis by demonstrating that a greater mismatch between antecedent and elided content is possible than previously thought; specifically, the paper shows that the identity condition for sluicing must be sensitive to pragmatic — i.e. non-truth-conditional — content as well as to semantic content. This observation motivates a proposal in which sluicing is treated as a pragmatics-sensitive phenomenon licensed by local contextual entailment.

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