Zero-Adjective contrast in much-less ellipsis: the advantage for parallel syntax

2017-11-08T10:42:02Z (GMT) by Katy Carlson Jesse A. Harris
<p>This paper explores the processing of sentences with a <i>much less</i> coordinator (<i>I don’t own a pink hat, much less a red one)</i>. This understudied ellipsis sentence, one of several focus-sensitive coordination structures, imposes syntactic and semantic conditions on the relationship between the correlate (<i>a pink hat</i>) and the remnant (<i>a red one</i>). We present the case of zero-adjective contrast, in which an NP remnant introduces an adjective without an overt counterpart in the correlate (<i>I don’t own a hat, much less a red one)</i>. Although zero-adjective contrast could in principle ease comprehension by limiting the possible relationships between the remnant and correlate to entailment, we find that zero-adjective contrast is avoided in production and taxing in online processing. Results from several studies support a processing model in which syntactic parallelism is the primary guide for determining contrast in ellipsis structures, even when violating parallelism would assist in computing semantic relationships.</p>