Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 851–875 | Cite as

The typology of head movement and ellipsis

A reply to Lipták and Saab (2014)
  • Craig Sailor


Lipták and Saab (2014) argue that the availability of both XP-ellipsis and X-movement out of XP within a particular language implicates the availability of the X-stranding XP-ellipsis pattern in that language, as seen in the verbal domains of Hebrew and Irish for example. They further argue that this implication can be used to diagnose the absence of X-movement in a language (i.e. if it has XP-ellipsis but lacks the X-stranding pattern). In this reply, I show that this diagnostic is flawed: a language can have the relevant ingredients and yet lack the X-stranding pattern that the authors predict to be present, as in Mainland Scandinavian, which has verb-second but lacks verb-stranding VP-ellipsis. I argue that such exceptions are principled: the X-stranding pattern arises only if the operations responsible for these phenomena are timed such that the trigger for X-movement out of XP is merged earlier than, or at the same time as, the trigger for XP-ellipsis. I revise Lipták and Saab’s (2014) implicational statement accordingly.


X-stranding XP-ellipsis Verb phrase ellipsis Verb-stranding Verb movement Verb second 



Special thanks to Maziar Toosarvandani for contributions to early versions of this work. For helpful feedback, thanks also go to Jason Merchant, Gary Thoms, and Mark de Vries; to audiences at the LSA Annual Meeting 2015, Cambridge SyntaxLab 2016, the University of Konstanz, and Ulster University; and, to three anonymous reviewers.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Theoretical and Applied LinguisticsUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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