Local contexts in ellipsis

Simon Charlow, Rutgers


I propose and defend a particular semantic implementation of discourse congruence (Rooth 1992; Schwarzschild 1999), which plays a central role in licensing anaphoric reduction phenomena like ellipsis and deaccenting. I argue that satisfaction of congruence is determined compositionally and extensionally -- that is, in a local context. I show how this leads to significant simplifications in the theory of reduction licensing, allowing us to dispense with otherwise necessary prohibitions on Meaningless Coindexing (Sag 1976; Heim 1997) and Redundancy within an assignment (cf. Schlenker 2005), and making it feasible to treat the relationship between an elided phrase and its antecedent as one of strict identity.

I consider several consequences of my proposal for the formulation of congruence operators, arguing that it compels us to take their anaphoric character seriously, while allowing for ex post facto (i.e., post-suppositional) linking of congruence operators to their antecedents. And I explore some consequences of these moves for restrictions on antecedent-contained deletion (Kennedy 1994) and the puzzling phenomenon of focused bound pronouns (Sauerland 1998; Jacobson 2000).