A two-source hypothesis for Gapping

David Potter*, Michael Frazier, Masaya Yoshida

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In this paper, we argue that Gapping constructions like Jessie might order beans and Kerry rice are ambiguous between two structures: CP domain coordinate structures, and vP domain coordinate structures. Initial evidence for this structural ambiguity analysis comes from the scope ambiguity that such examples exhibit: scopal elements above the vP domain, such as the modal auxiliary might, can take wide scope above the coordinate structure, or distributive scope, under it. Scopal elements within the vP domain, like manner adverbs, take only distributive scope. This distribution follows directly from our two-source analysis: ambiguous scopal material is either contained within the CP sized conjuncts, yielding a distributive interpretation, or it occupies a position above, and thus scopes over, the vP domain coordinate structure. We then show that our structural ambiguity analysis correctly predicts that the distribution of the Gapping scope ambiguity interacts with seemingly independent syntactic properties, with the effect that only one or the other reading is available in certain syntactic contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1123-1160
Number of pages38
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Across-the-board movement
  • Ellipsis
  • Gapping
  • Structural ambiguity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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