Masaya Yoshida Colloquium

May 26
3:30 - 5:00 pm
Pick 016
Northwestern University
Online processing of elided structures

Ellipsis constructions present many challenges to incremental parsing. Example (1) shows that in an embedded wh-interrogative context, a string that is compatible with an ellipsis can typically be followed by non-ellipsis continuations as well. The ellipsis continuation of (1a) to the sentence fragment in (1) is just one of many possible continuations, and a variety of different clauses may follow the fragment, as (1b) and (1c) illustrate.

(1) John was writing something, but I don’t know what …
a. ... Ellipsis
b. … he was writing
c. … motivates him to write so much.

Therefore there is a problem of ambiguity resolution, namely, whether the parser picks ellipsis structure when there are alternative non-ellipsis structures. In other words, does the parser prefer to chose an ellipsis structure or does the parser prefer a non-ellipsis structures?

Furthermore, even if the parser chooses the ellipsis structure as a continuation, it is not clear how the parser identifies the appropriate antecedent for the ellipsis site and recovers the content of the ellipsis site.

This study addresses these questions through studies on online processing of ellipsis constructions such as Gapping, Forward Sluicing and Backward Sluicing. We try to show that the parser prefers ellipsis structures to other structures and it actively searches for the antecedent, attempting to associate the ellipsis site and the potential antecedent clause as soon as possible.