Saturday, October 01, 2005

3 sluicing puzzles: Number two

This one isn't at all involved, it's just a simple query: Does anybody's theory explain why you can't sluice an embedded yes/no question?

E.g., what's wrong with (1)?

1. *Bill guessed that Mary had left, but when I asked, Sue didn't know whether.

or, to make the antecedent and the sluice even more parallel:

2. *Bill asked if Mary had left, but I didn't know whether.

Maybe you can sluice them but the C° has to be null, as in

3. Bill asked if Mary had left, but I didn't know.

Any opinions?

Update: Norvin Richards writes:

"Anne Lobeck had a theory that was intended to handle this, which she talks about in her book Ellipsis (and some other folks have used it or developed similar theories--Saito and Murasugi have a relevant paper in a J/K from 1990).

The theory is that you can only elide the complement of a head that agrees with its specifier--so the fact you're discussing here is grouped together with contrasts like "I wanted to read a book, so I stole John's __" vs. *"I wanted to read a book, so I stole a __".

I don't think they have a story about why agreeing with your specifier has anything to do with being able to elide your complement. And the facts for NP-ellipsis are not so clear--it sure looks like you can have D's like "that" or "five" with elided complements (unless there's something more complicated going on in " I bought five"). Ignoring this, I have an article where I try to get the facts to follow from tenets of Kayneanism ("Why there is an EPP")."

Thanks, Norvin!


Blogger caelestis said...

So (1) and (2) are out for me. (3) is fine.

5:39 PM  
Blogger hh said...

whoops! thanks caelestis -- I'd accidentally left out the * on (2). It's out for me as well.

9:22 PM  
Blogger caelestis said...

Actually, it took some re-readings. I thought the whether’s were either’s! I kept thinking, huh, what is wrong with (1) and (2)?

6:44 AM  
Blogger Lance said...

Hey, don't forget to post Puzzle #3! (Data, data, how I love the data.)

10:48 PM  

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