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Linguistic Inquiry

Spring 2004, Vol. 35, No. 2, Pages 344-353
(doi: 10.1162/ling.2004.35.2.344)
© 2004 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Indefinites in Verb Phrase Ellipsis
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The purpose of this squib is to show that verb phrase ellipsis data elucidate the semantics of indefinite noun phrases in ways not described previously. Specifically, ellipsis data are shown to provide counterexamples to the thesis (formulated in Fodor and Sag 1982) that all indefinites that appear to be nonlocally scoped existential quantifiers actually denote individuals. Ellipsis data also reveal that these counterexamples are of two kinds. In some cases, the indefinite maybe analyzed as nonquantificational, through reference to a function (as in the theory proposed in Kratzer 1998). But in other cases, the indefinite resists such treatment and indeed appears to introduce nonlocal existential quantification. The squib thereby vindicates conclusions drawn in previous literature from related observations regarding the interaction of indefinites with quantifiers (Farkas 1981, Chierchia 2001, Schwarz 2001). It moreover examines potential evidence from ellipsis for the existence of individual-denoting indefinites, but argues that in this case the evidence is inconclusive.