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With a minimum of necessary theorizing, an attempt is made to introduce a notion of Shakespeare's ellipsis which turns aside its usual overapplicability. From a variety of proposals grows a synthesis thereof, accentuating, it is hoped, a most scientifically attractive strain in the behavior of ellipsis, its contextual dependence. A preliminary look at Early Modern English, and Shakespeare's against it, prompts comments and warnings in the direction of greater relevance to the authoress guidelines for recognizing instances of ellipsis.
This paper presents a history of the function of ellipsis and interruption, and of the way they are represented by punctuation marks, between the mid-seventeenth and the late nineteenth centuries, with special regard to pragmatic and text typological aspects of the issue. From the middle of the seventeenth century onwards, the omission of words or larger chunks of text, as well as the interruption of sentences, were represented in Hungarian printed documents by an ellipsis mark, a dash, or three or more dots. This paper discusses the functional and formal relationship of those three punctuation marks, and touches upon the interfering role of printing houses in their use.
Hungarian coordinated compound words may involve ellipsis. The paper outlines the proposal that ellipsis should be regarded as non-insertion of the phonological form of a lexical item into the structural representation. Accordingly, lexical and grammatical features are present in the position of ellipsis, and thus participate in the interpretation of the compound word concerned. This approach rejects the view that the 'missing' material would be deleted phonetically, and therefore would have to be reconstructed. 'Silent' lexical items without a phonological form are claimed to be subject to ellipsis. Lexical items with a phonological form, making the interpretation of the former possible, are available in the other compound word. These are called licensers. If the licensing compound word precedes the compound word involving ellipsis, we have to do with forward ellipsis. If the licensing compound word follows the elliptic one, we are dealing with backward ellipsis. A directionality constraint for ellipsis in compound words is presented. The constraint means that the possibility of 'ellipticity' of a constituent of a compound word does not only depend on whether it occurs repeatedly but also on the kind of structural position it occurs in. In terms of a tree representing a coordinative structure, in the first or left-hand member of the coordinative construction it is only a constituent on a right-hand branch that can be elided, whereas in the second or right-hand member of the coordinative construction it is only a constituent on a left-hand branch that can undergo ellipsis. The author argues that the directionality constraint allows only the backward types of ellipsis in a coordinative structure of compound words. This type of ellipsis is supported by an interaction of structural, lexical, and phonological features.
The paper deals with semantic content of elliptic sentences and its relation to semantic content of the corresponding non-elliptical sentences. On the basis of certain kinds of examples it is shown that syntactic theories of ellipsis have serious limits. It is also demonstrated that the so-called Property Theory, which is an example of a semantic theory of ellipsis, bears serious limitations. Thereafter, another semantic theory, namely Minimal Indexicalism, is analysed. Theoretical tools of the theory – in particular, its criteria of linguistic expressions identity and three layers of content – that are vital to its handling of ellipsis are discussed in some detail. Finally, a new theory of ellipsis based on Transparent Intensional Logic is proposed and argued for.
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