Antecedent-Contained Deletion

Dan Everett Dan.Everett at MAN.AC.UK
Sun Jun 17 18:06:11 UTC 2001

I am wondering if anyone reading this list knows of or has worked on
functional approaches to Antecedent Contained Deletion. Consider the
following (inspiration for this posting comes from David Pesetsky's new
book, Phrasal Movement and Its Kin, MIT Press):

In thinking of functionalist accounts of ACD, some of the simple cases seem
to work out. So, consider
crucial pairs like the following:

(1)  Mary suspected everyone that I did.
(2) *Mary suspected that I did. (under verbal ellipsis reading, i.e. where
 'did' is 'suspected')

(1) is supposed to be good in a Minimalism account because the entire
quantified d.obj.
 'everyone that I did' raises at Logical Form and then the quantifier raises
 i.e. 'everyone' to the far left of the phrase, the CP position. And this
 movement is supposed to eliminate the infinite regress difficulty. Since
 there is no quantifier in (2), such LF movement is
impossible, hence we are led to an infinite regress and the sentence is out
 people don't usually mention that an infinite regress ought only to be a
 performance problem.)

If I were to take a simple-minded approach to this, I would say that, in
RRG terms, you cannot delete/omit verbal material (or any other) from a
'core' argument position (the d.obj. especially) because new information
is presented here. Notice that the grammatical 'quantificational
structure' doesn't involve deletion of a core argument but, rather, a
position of exactly the kind that old information often turns up in (and
old information is often realized as a clitic or zero). The other condition
on ACD is
that the antecedent VP is supposed to c-command the elided VP. So no
passives: *That everyone did was suspected by John. But c-command, in my
experience, can be paraphrased in RRG-functional terms as CORE argument or
argument of CORE argument. In any case, the sentence just given is bad
presumably because subjects never take objects as antecedents. C-command
is unnecessary. Now consider

(3) Everyone suspected. That everyone did was suspected by John.
(4) John met everyone that Mary did.
(5) *Everyone that Mary did was met by John.
(6) ??Mary met people. Everyone that Mary did was met by John (too).
 (perhaps special stress is needed on 'did' for this to work.)

So, it doesn't look utterly implausible to suggest an
information-structure approach to ACD, rather than a structural

In fact, an information-structure approach is rendered even more
plausible by the well-known, but often ignored, fact that intonation affects
cases of deletion and displaced constituents. Is anyone on this list aware
of any
attempts to reanalyze ACD facts in terms of information structure?


Dan Everett

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