Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 399–452

Ellipsis and higher-order unification

  • Mary Dalrymple
  • Stuart M. Shieber
  • Fernando C. N. Pereira

DOI: 10.1007/BF00630923

Cite this article as:
Dalrymple, M., Shieber, S.M. & Pereira, F.C.N. Linguist Philos (1991) 14: 399. doi:10.1007/BF00630923


We present a new method for characterizing the interpretive possibilities generated by elliptical constructions in natural language. Unlike previous analyses, which postulate ambiguity of interpretation or derivation in the full clause source of the ellipsis, our analysis requires no such hidden ambiguity. Further, the analysis follows relatively directly from an abstract statement of the ellipsis interpretation problem. It predicts correctly a wide range of interactions between ellipsis and other semantic phenomena such as quantifier scope and bound anaphora. Finally, although the analysis itself is stated nonprocedurally, it admits of a direct computational method for generating interpretations.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Dalrymple
    • 1
  • Stuart M. Shieber
    • 2
  • Fernando C. N. Pereira
    • 3
  1. 1.Xerox-PARCPalo AltoUSA
  2. 2.Division of Applied SciencesHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.AT&T Bell LaboratoriesMurray HillUSA