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Journal Article

Clausal coordination and coordinative ellipsis in a model of the speaker


Kempen,  Gerard
Other Research, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Other Research, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Kempen, G. (2009). Clausal coordination and coordinative ellipsis in a model of the speaker. Linguistics, 47(3), 653-696. doi:10.1515/LING.2009.022.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-2DDD-4
This article presents a psycholinguistically inspired approach to the syntax of clause-level coordination and coordinate ellipsis. It departs from the assumption that coordinations are structurally similar to so-called appropriateness repairs — an important type of self-repairs in spontaneous speech. Coordinate structures and appropriateness repairs can both be viewed as “update” constructions. Updating is defined as a special sentence production mode that efficiently revises or augments existing sentential structure in response to modifications in the speaker's communicative intention. This perspective is shown to offer an empirically satisfactory and theoretically parsimonious account of two prominent types of coordinate ellipsis, in particular “forward conjunction reduction” (FCR) and “gapping” (including “long-distance gapping” and “subgapping”). They are analyzed as different manifestations of “incremental updating” — efficient updating of only part of the existing sentential structure. Based on empirical data from Dutch and German, novel treatments are proposed for both types of clausal coordinate ellipsis. The coordination-as-updating perspective appears to explain some general properties of coordinate structure: the existence of the well-known “coordinate structure constraint”, and the attractiveness of three-dimensional representations of coordination. Moreover, two other forms of coordinate ellipsis — SGF (“subject gap in finite clauses with fronted verb”), and “backward conjunction reduction” (BCR) (also known as “right node raising” or RNR) — are shown to be incompatible with the notion of incremental updating. Alternative theoretical interpretations of these phenomena are proposed. The four types of clausal coordinate ellipsis — SGF, gapping, FCR and BCR — are argued to originate in four different stages of sentence production: Intending (i.e., preparing the communicative intention), conceptualization, grammatical encoding, and phonological encoding, respectively.