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Ellipsis (was: Re: Italian Particles)

From:Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...>
Date:Monday, April 24, 2000, 13:24
On Thu, 22 Apr 0100 02:52:09 -0400, John Cowan <cowan@...>

>Sally Caves scripsit: > >> So... what you're saying is that analytic languages, like English, are >> PERFORCE subject first? Or verb subject? Hmmm. I don't see why that >> can't be formally broken. > >I think there is a pressure toward SVO in languages that don't mark case, >simply so that ellipsis works: you can have VO or SV, and there's no doubt >what's meant. In verb-first or verb-last languages, it's not clear
>a single argument is S or O.
I suspect that enabling ellipsis is not so mandatory. For example, in English, you can't say simply 'Reads' in reply to a question like 'What does he do?' (Or at least I was taught you can't; L1 speakers may correct me). You must say 'He reads' - a very strange thing for the speakers of more synthetic langs. In many cases you can't omit the object. This may be partly conditioned by the common transitive/intransitive homonymy ('Burn!' wouldn't mean the same as 'Burn it!'), but there must be other factors involved (can you ever say in English simply 'Give!' or 'Take!', I wonder? And why, if not?). Similarly, I think SOV (OSV, VSO, VOS) languages may prohibit certain types of elliptic structures (e. g. requiring a pronominal filler in some cases). I see a lot of possibilities here (which mostly seem incompatible within one lang): 'Don't omit the subject', 'Don't drop the object', 'Don't leave out what would stand closest to the verb in the non-emphatic construction', etc. Have anybody played with this in their conlangs? Basilius