Ellipsis and Syntactic Representation

This paper addresses a question that has been of interest to researchers on ellipsis since the very early days of work in generative grammar: do constituents targeted by various types of ellipsis operations have syntactic structure at some level (or levels) of representation, or can the various properties of ellipsis constructions be accounted for purely in terms of recovery of meanings, without positing syntactic representation at the ellipsis site? Although semantic (and discourse) factors clearly do play an important role in licensing ellipsis, I will argue that it is nevertheless the case that elided constituents must also have syntactic representation. Focusing on the interaction of ellipsis and several different grammatical phenomena and constraints, including parasitic gaps, binding theory, and extraction islands, I will present evidence that ellipsis constructions are sensitive to configurational constraints on syntactic representations, but not to constraints that are based on morphophonological properties of lexical items, thus supporting a view of ellipsis as deletion of syntactic material.}