Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 309–321 | Cite as

Fragment answers and movement

A superlative argument


The nature of fragment answers has been under debate for the past 40 years. Most of the arguments have focused on the mobility and island-(in)sensitivity of the fragments. This paper offers a new empirical domain of investigation: interpretative differences between fragment answers and their full sentence counterparts. I present data regarding an interpretation of superlative expressions that is available only with overt movement but not covert movement, and show that fragment answers allow the reading while their full sentence counterparts do not. Thus I argue that in some cases fragment answers must involve movement in the narrow syntax. Approaches to fragment answers that exclusively involve PF movement of the fragments or in situ fragment answers are challenged.


Fragment answers Superlatives Movement 



I thank Susi Wurmbrand, Jonathan Bobaljik, Željko Bošković, Jon Gajewski, Jason Merchant, Troy Messick, Ian Roberts, Marcin Dadan, three anonymous reviewers and the managing editor Jason Merchant at NLLT for their insightful comments and suggestions. Earlier versions of this work were presented at Ling Lunch at University of Connecticut (2015), the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Association of Great Britain, and the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. Thanks to the reviewers and audience at these conferences especially Klaus Abels, Patrick David Elliott, and Andrew Weir for valuable comments. I also thank all the native speakers who have provided me with their judgements. All errors are mine.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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