Article published in:Minimal Answers: Ellipsis, syntax and discourse in the acquisition of European Portuguese
Ana Lúcia Santos
[Language Acquisition and Language Disorders 48] 2009
► pp. 21–112
Chapter 2. VPE and the structural and anaphoric properties of minimal answers in EP adult grammar
In this chapter, I establish to what extent we find ellipsis in discourse fragments such as answers to yes-no questions in EP adult grammar. I argue that some types of answers to yes-no questions in EP are cases of ellipsis and others are cases of deep anaphora in the sense of Hankamer and Sag (1976). e cases of ellipsis, more precisely VPE, are central in this dissertation. I therefore start by presenting some novel evidence in support of Matos' (1992) claim that EP has V-stranding VPE, which is a type of VPE that exists in Hebrew and Irish (Doron, 1999; McCloskey, 1991; Goldberg, 2005). Since, in EP, many sentences are ambiguous between VPE and null object or between VPE and null complement anaphora, I establish the difierences between these constructions. e discussion developed at that point sets the background for the discussion of the learnability problem posed by VPE in EP, as presented in Chapter 3. At the end of this chapter, I discuss the licensing and identification conditions on VPE in more detail. e discussion of the identifica-tion conditions on VPE, along the lines of Merchant (2001), asserts the notion of givenness as central to the understanding of ellipsis; it also defines to what extent ellipsis interacts with focus. Again, only in Chapter 3 I define the relevance of this discussion for the study of language acquisition.