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Levine, Robert: Linearization and its discontents

Much recent work on coordination in the HPSG framework seeks to deal with some of the most intractable issues this phenomenon poses for a constraint-based phrase structure architecture by appealing to the linearization mechanism introduced in Reape 1993. The research in question utilizes the mismatch between linear phonological sequences on the one hand and phrasal configuration on the other to underwrite a particular interpretation of ellipsis in which multiple structural objects with identical or near-identical descriptions are mapped to a single {\it dom-object} token. This mapping apparently allows a variety of problematic cases, such as right node raising, dependent cluster coordination, and unlike category coordination to be reinterpreted as instances of ordinary coordination in which structurally present elements receive no prosodic expression, creating the impression that strings which do not correspond to constituents of the same category have nonetheless been conjoined or disjoined. I argue in this paper that such linearization-based ellipsis (LBE) analyses, though plausible when confined to a narrow class of simplest-case data, prove untenable in the face of data sets in which the LBE approach must account for the interaction of nonconstituent coordination and quantification or symmetric predication, symmetrical modification of nominal heads, and a large and varied class of unlike category coordinations that do not admit of any ellipsis-based solutions. I show in addition that various objections offered in the LBE literature to categorial grammar treatments of the problems posed by noncanonical coordinations do not take into account techical resources available to CG which permit straightforward and unproblematic solutions to these problems. One must conclude that despite the general poplularity of LBE accounts of conjunction, there is at the moment no satisfactory HPSG treatment of noncanonical coordinations.


Maintained by Stefan Müller

Created: November 21, 2011
Last modified: January 09, 2019

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