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Gapping in Farsi: A crosslinguistic investigation

Annahita Farudi, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Abstract

This dissertation explores a longstanding challenge in work on gapping through the empirical lens of gapping in Farsi (the Tehrani variant of Modern Persian). While gapping has much in common with more uncontroversial elliptical constructions such as VPE and sluicing, it also differs from ellipsis in ways that accounts combining TP or CP coordination and constituent deletion fail to explain. Johnson (1994/2004, 2009), and extensions of Johnson's work in Coppock (2001) and Lin (2000,2001), among others, propose a solution to this dilemma for gapping in English that relies on LOW COORDINATION and, consequently, on the assumption that VP, or υP, is the verbal constituent targeted in gapping. I argue that the same kind of solution cannot be extended to Farsi because there is not evidence of low coordination structures in gapping and, crucially, VPE does not exist independently in the langauge. It is shown that while gapping in Farsi exhibits the same core characteristics that distinguish it from ellipsis in English and other languages (restriction to coordinations, forward only directionality), it does not exhibit those that motivate the low-coordination structure. I propose an alternative MOVEMENT PLUS DELETION account that addresses the first set of differences while retaining (i) TP, as opposed to VP, coordination and (ii) ellipsis as the source of the gap. This is achieved by designating the coordinate head itself the syntactic licensor, and by requiring that the gapped TP must move to a specifier position of the coordinate head in order for ellipsis to be licensed via an agreement relationship between it and the licensing head. The necessity of movement in establishing the ellipsis-licensing agreement relationship is argued to account for the contrast between the acceptability of gapping in embedded clauses and the ungrammaticality of gapping inside islands. Thus this account, while it derives the gap from ellipsis, also has affinities with accounts, particularly that of Johnson (1994/2004), which seek to explain the distinctive properties of gapping by invoking movement. In addition to contributing a study of gapping in Farsi, in which gapping has not been previously studied, to the cross-linguistic data on gapping, a major empirical contribution of this work is the finding that the restriction against embedded gapping observed in English is likely not a definitional property of gapping across languages.^

Subject Area

Linguistics

Recommended Citation

Farudi, Annahita, "Gapping in Farsi: A crosslinguistic investigation" (2013). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3556244.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI3556244

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