MORE ON THE LICENSING CONDITIONS OF NP-ELLIPSIS AND THE STRUCTURE OF NOUN PHRASES IN MANDARIN
Wei-Cherng Sam Jheng
It has been agreed in previous studies that an ellipsis site has to be licensed by a governing head, thus manifesting formal licensing in the sense of the Empty Category Principle (Chomsky 1981, 1986). In addition to lending weight to Tsai’s (2011) view that formal licensing can be recast as a built-in operation of Merge in the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995), the goal of this paper is to add refinement to the licensing condition of NP-ellipsis in Mandarin. It is argued that the licensing condition of NP-ellipsis is decomposed into two parts: NP-ellipsis is licensed by a governing head whose phrase is able to denote a numerical reading (both the cardinal and the ordinal reading). The two conditions are not independent, and instead, the numerical reading condition arises from a complex nominal structure involving NumP and ClP, while formal licensing reflects a head-complement relation. This line of thinking is supported by instances of NP-ellipsis licensed by de, whose licensing configuration does not contain NumP and ClP, and hence, the numerical reading is not available. Several complications surrounding NP-ellipsis are discussed.