Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 275–314

A linearization account of either … or constructions

Open AccessArticle

DOI: 10.1007/s11049-010-9090-4

Cite this article as:
Hofmeister, P. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (2010) 28: 275. doi:10.1007/s11049-010-9090-4


To account for the linear freedom of either in disjunction constructions, I expand upon the focus-based account of den Dikken (2006). Word order constraints, in contrast to movement rules or base-generation constraints, provide the mechanism for explaining the distributional data. I argue that all positional variability exhibited by either ultimately derives from a licensing construction that enables either to be shuffled about disjunct-internally, yet simultaneously prevents either from entering into linear precedence relations with disjunct-external constituents. Restrictions on the surface realization of either result from a linear precedence rule ordering either before the contrastive focus, language particular constraints on word order, and general constraints on coordinate ellipsis. Overall, this analysis presents an account of eitheror constructions that introduces only a single linear precedence rule and a licensing construction for combining either with disjunctions to account for the data, relying on independently-motivated constraints to carry the rest of the analytical burden.


DisjunctionsFree word orderLinearizationContrastive focus
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© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Research in LanguageUniversity of California-San DiegoLa JollaUSA