Reading Carefully: Verb Movement and Ellipsis in a Verb-Final Language

  • Emily Manetta


Verb-stranding verb phrase ellipsis (VVPE) has been identified in a variety of languages, including Irish (McCloskey 1991), Hebrew (Doron 1991; Goldberg 2005), Russian (Gribanova 2013a, b), and Hindi-Urdu (Manetta, 2018). The present paper concerns the socalled “adverb test” for diagnosing VVPE (e.g. Oku 1998; Goldberg 2005; Simpson, Chowdhury, and Menon 2013), and in particular a solution to the puzzling failure of this test in languages which have otherwise been argued to exhibit VVPE. I propose an account which posits that the apparent failure of the adverb test in these contexts emerges due to the interaction of ellipsis, verb movement, and contrastive polarity (following insights in Gribanova 2017). I claim that in contrastive environments in which the verb moves as high as a TP-external Polarity head, MaxElide will force ellipsis of the largest possible constituent. The upshot of this claim is that the string which would appear to indicate failure of the adverb test is not a string generated by ellipsis at all, but instead by a missing internal argument. This small project contributes to the wider program of recent work investigating the nature of head movement and its role in the syntax (Chomsky 2001; Hartman 2011; LaCara 2016; McCloskey 2016; Keine and Bhatt 2016; Gribanova and Mikkelsen, 2018; Manetta, 2018).