Thursday 5 November – James Griffiths

Speaker: Jemes Griffiths (Utrecht University)
Title: The syntax of reformulative appositions 
Date: Thursday 5 November
Venue: Van Wijkplaats 3/006
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs


Reformulative appositions (RAs) are appositions that provide alternative and often more informative names for the referents (1a) or concepts (1b) that their anchors denote. (In (1), appositions are italicised and anchors are boldfaced.)

(1)         a.       The Big Apple, or New York, is a huge city.

b.       Bren confusticates, i.e. perplexes, Swantje.

I claim that reformulative appositions are coordinated with their anchors in a ‘regular’ manner. In other words, I claim that (1a) fits the coordination schema in (2), which is identical to the schema for an utterance such as Bill and Ben slept.

(2)         [[The Big Apple], or [New York]], is a huge city.

I use a variety of arguments to support this claim. To provide two here: (i) I show that RAs are not opaque to c-command, as is typically assumed (for instance see (3), where ATB-movement is observed), and (ii) I show that an understudied subset of RAs that permit ellipsis license gapping, which is reserved for coordinative environments (see (4), where chevrons denote ellipsis).

(3)         [Which country]1 do you hate the motorways of t1, or as the Americans say the highways of t1, the most?

(4)         He went there last month, Sting <went> to New York, I mean.

I also show that this analysis of RAs is superior to the ‘orphanage’ analysis, according to which RAs are remnants of elliptical clauses that are derived in syntactic isolation to their host clauses (5).

(5)         The Big Apple, [New York <is a huge city>], is a huge city.


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