Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 703–744 | Cite as

On Swiping in English

  • Andrew Radford
  • Eiichi Iwasaki


This paper examines the syntax of clauses in which prepositions undergo Swiping/Sluice-Stranding in elliptical questions like Who with? (e.g. in response to ‘She’s having an affair’). We begin by outlining characteristic properties of Swiping, noting that this involves an interrogative wh-constituent positioned in front of a focused preposition, and that the clause remnant following the preposition obligatorily undergoes a type of ellipsis traditionally termed Sluicing. We outline the recent CP shell analysis of Swiping developed by van Craenenbroeck (2010), under which a PP containing a wh-word is moved into the specifier position of an inner CP, the wh-word is moved into the specifier position of an outer CP (stranding the preposition on the edge of the inner CP), and the residual TP is deleted at PF. We discuss a range of problems with his analysis, and argue that it can be substantially improved if we adopt a more richly articulated cartographic structure for the clause periphery under which Swiped clauses contain ForceP, FocP, and FinP projections. More specifically, we argue that the wh-PP moves to the edge of FinP (with the auxiliary moving to Fino in structures involving auxiliary inversion), the preposition moves into Foco to mark it as focused, and the wh-constituent moves into Spec-ForceP to type the clause as interrogative. We claim that the obligatory Sluicing component of Swiping involves ellipsis of FinP in the PF component, and that this is required in order to repair violations of PF constraints which would otherwise arise. We show how our analysis accounts for a range of phenomena not captured under van Craenenbroeck’s original analysis.


Cartography Ellipsis Periphery Repair Sluicing Swiping 



We are grateful for help from Peter Culicover, Chris Cummins, Liliane Haegeman, Jeremy Hartman, Ángel Jiménez-Fernández, Howard Lasnik, Jim McCloskey, Jason Merchant, Peter Sells, anonymous NLLT reviewers and the editors (especially Marcel den Dikken). We would also like to thank David Adger, Doug Arnold, Martin Atkinson, Bob Borsley, Chris Collins, Peter Culicover, Nigel Harwood, Roger Hawkins, Alison Henry, Caroline Heycock, Philip Hofmeister, Mike Jones, Richard Larson, Adam Ledgeway, Jason Merchant, Louisa Sadler, Carson Schütze, Neil Smith, Andy Spencer and Tom Roeper for giving us their judgments on the acceptability of the examples of Pseudoswiping in (62) in the main text, and Alison Henry for her judgment of the Belfast English sentences in (25) as well. Special thanks are due to Philip Hofmeister for collecting Mechanical Turk data for us, and to Susan Pintzuk for researching fronted wh+p structures in earlier varieties of English. Andrew Radford is grateful to the University of Essex for a period of leave which supported his contribution to the research reported here. Eiichi Iwasaki is grateful to Akira Morita for making research facilities at Waseda University available to him.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Language and LinguisticsUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  2. 2.School of CommerceWaseda UniversityTokyoJapan

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