Modal complement ellipsis

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Although the literature commonly assumes Dutch not to display VP ellipsis (VPE), this paper presents Dutch data reminiscent of VPE in English. In particular, the infinitival complement of a root modal can be elided. This modal complement ellipsis (MCE) differs from English VPE, however, in not allowing objects to extract out of the ellipsis site. Therefore, one might take MCE to involve a null proform. Since subjects can extract, however, I argue that MCE involves deletion of syntactic structure. I claim that the ellipsis site is sent to PF for non-pronunciation as soon as the ellipsis licensing head is merged. This implies that extraction is only possible to a position between the licensor and the ellipsis site. I account for the contrast between Dutch and English by showing that in MCE only the subject has such an escape hatch, while English VPE allows all extraction due to an intervening phase edge.


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