Ellipsis in english


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Ellipsis is a grammatical cohesive device

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Ellipsis in english

  1. 1. Ellipsis in EnglishHalliday & Hassan (1976) Cohesion in English Ahmed Qadoury Abed (Ph D candidate) Baghdad University /College of Arts/ English Department 1
  2. 2. What is ellipsis? 1 SOMETHING UNDERSTOOD. ‘undertood’ in the special sense of ‘going without saying’. We are referring to clauses and sentences ,etc. whose structure is such as to presuppose some preceding item, which then serves as the source of the missing information An elliptical item is one which leaves specific structural slots to be filled from elsewhere.- Joan brought some carnations ,and Cathrine (E) some sweet peas. 2
  3. 3. Ellipsis , Substitution ,and Reference Halliday& Hassan define ellipsis in relation to another important cohesive device, i.e. substitution, since they embody the same fundamental relation between parts of the text. Ellipsis is substitution by zero. a. This is a fine hall you have here. I’m proud to be lecturing in it (R). b. This is a fine hall you have here. Ive never lectured in a finer one (S). c. This is a fine hall you have here. Ive never lectured in a finer (E). 3
  4. 4. Ellipsis: Anophoric ,Cataphoric, and Exophoric Ellipsis is normally an anaphoric relation. Ellipsis is also catapjoric: - Because Alice wont ( dust the furniture ); Mary has to dust the furniture. Occasionally the presupposition in an eliptical structure may be it exophoric . If a housewife on seeing the milkman approach calls out Two please! She is using exophoric ellipsis ;it is the context of situation that provides the information needed to interpret this (p.144). 4
  5. 5. Types of Ellipsis1- Nominal Ellipsis2- Verbal Ellipsis3- Clausal Ellipsis 5
  6. 6. Nominal Ellipsis 1 Nominal ellipsis means "the omission of a noun head“ in a nominal group. He bought a red car, but I like the blue. The Nominal Group is (Premodifiers) + Head + (Postmodifiers)Those two fast electric trains with pantographs premodifiers Head postmodifiersModifiers1- Deictic (d) ------those------determiners2- Numerative (n)-----two---- numerals (or quantifier)3-Epithet (e)-----fast---adjectives4- Classifiers (c) ----– nouns5- Qualifier (q)---- with pantographs—(Relative Clause /pre phrase)- Adverbs ---so, every, too- Head –(common noun, proper noun, pronoun)—ThingThe most characteristic instances of ellipsis are those with Deictics and Numeratives (p.154) 6
  7. 7. Nominal Ellipsis 2 Nominal ellipsis is when Head is omitted and its function is taken on by one of these modifiers. Therefore, it involves the upgrading of a word function not Head from the status of Modifier to the status of Head. Which hat will you wear? a- the best (E) b- the best hat (no E) This is c- the best of the hats (no E) d- the best of the three (E) e- the best you have (E) 7
  8. 8. Nominal Ellipsis: Deictics 4 There are three types of Deictics: Specific deictics Non-specific deictics Post-deictics 8
  9. 9. Nominal Ellipsis: SpecificDeictics 51- Possessives (Smith’s, my father’s, my, your, mine, hers, …) - Just ask Janet how to polish the brassware. Hers sparkles.2- Demonstratives (this, that, these, those)3- TheThe itself does not operate elliptically, since its function is to signal that the thing designated is fully defined, but by something other than the itself, it normally requires another item with it as in the two , the small, etc.- The boy’s (parents) had no time for him.- Take these pills three times daily. And you’d better have some more of those too.- The one that got away.- Which one is your father?—the taller 9
  10. 10. Nominal Ellipsis: Non-SpecificDeictics 6Each , every, any, either , no, neither, a, some , all , and bothOf these, all occur as Head of an elliptical nominal except every, but a, and no have to be represented by the forms one and none ,respectively. a. I hope no bones are broken ?-None to speak of. b. I wont be introduced to the pudding, please. May I give you some? c. Have some milk.- I dont see any milk- There isnt any. d. Write an essay on the Stuart kings. Two pages about each will do. e. His sons went into business. Neither succeeded. 10
  11. 11. Nominal Ellipsis: Post-Deictics7 Post-deictics are not determiners but adjectives. These are some thirty to forty adjectives used commonly in deictic function: other ,same ,different, identical, usual, regular, certain, odd, famous, well-known, typical, obvious ,etc.- I ‘ve used up these three folders you gave me. Can I use the other?- I ‘ll have the usual, please.- A group of well-dressed young men suddenly appeared on the stage. One of them bowed to the audience; the others stood motionless. 11
  12. 12. Nominal Ellipsis:Numeratives8 The Numerative element in the nominal group is expressed by numerals or other quantifying words, which form three subcategories: 1-ordinals (first, next, last, second ,fourth ,…) 2- cardinals (the three, these three, any three, all three,the usual three, the same three,…) 3- indefinite quantifiers (much ,many, more, most, few, several, a little, lots, a bit, hundreds,..)- Have another chocolate?- No thanks; that was my third.- Have another chocolate?- No thanks;I’ve had my three.- Can all cats climb trees?- They all can ;and most do.- . You ought to have a wooden horse on wheels., that you ought !. – ‘ I’ll get one’: the Knight said thoughtfully to himself . ‘One or two - several.’- ‘One side will make you grow taller,and the other side will make you grow shorter.’ ‘One side of what?The other side of what? Thought Alice to herself. ‘Of the mushroom,’ said the Caterpiler,just as if she had asked it aloud. 12
  13. 13. Nominal Ellipsis: Epithets 11The function of Epithet is typically fulfilled by an adjective .It is not common to find adjectives occurring as Head in ellipsis:1- colour adjectivesGreen suits you very well.2- oppositesI like strong tea. I suppose weak is better for you.3-AttributeThe rich , the poor, the honest4-comparativeI’ll buy you some prettier.Mary is the cleverer.5- superlativeThey are fine actors. Jones always gets hold of the finest. 13
  14. 14. Verbal Ellipsis 1 An elliptical verbal group presupposes one or more words from a previous verbal group. Technically, it is defined as a verbal group whose structure does not fully express its systemic features:1- finiteness (finite or non-finite)2- polarity :positive or negative3- voice :active or passive4- tense: past or present or futurea-Have you been swimming? – Yes, I have.b- What have you been doing?- swimmingThe elliptical swimming has the features of finite, positive, active, present in past in present, but none of these selections is shown in its own structure. They have to be recovered by presupposition.A verb group (have been swimming) whose structure fully represents all its systematic features is not elliptical. 14
  15. 15. Verbal Ellipsis: Lexical Ellipsis2 Lexical ellipsis is that type in which the lexical verb is missing from the verbal group. Thus, Any verbal group not containing a lexical verb is elliptical. Any verbal group consisting of a modal or an operator only can immediately be recognized as elliptical: - Is John going to come?- He might. He was to, but he may not, - He should, if he wants his name to be considered. Be, have, and do can be elliptical and substitutes (non-elliptical): -Did Jane know?-No, but Mary did (no E). - Did Jane know?- Yes ,she did (E).Here, the distinction between elliptical and non-elliptical forms has to be recovered from the presupposed clause ,since did is a lexical verb replaced by knew in the first sentence ,while an operator in the latter. 15
  16. 16. Verbal Ellipsis: OperatorEllipsis 3 It involves only the omission of operators; the lexical verb always remains intact, and the subject is always omitted from the clause; it must therefore be presupposed: a. What have you been doing? b. swimming. This constitutes the first type of operator ellipsis: sequences such as questions and answers, in which the lexical verb either supplies the answer to ‘do what?’ as in the above example , or repudiates the verb in the question: - Has she been crying?- No, laughing . The other type is in coordination: - Some were laughing and others crying. 16
  17. 17. Clausal Ellipsis 1 The clause has two-part structure consisting of modal and proposition: The Duke was going to plant a row of poplars in the park Modal PropositionalIn the park the Duke was going to plant a row of poplars .A row of poplars the Duke was going to plant in the park.The elements in circles are the modal 17
  18. 18. Clausal Ellipsis 2 Clausal ellipsis represents the omission of a part of the clause or all of it. For example, the subject- pronoun element is frequently omitted specially in spoken texts. Such ellipsis is often associated with questions and responses in dialogues. It is similar to the verbal ellipsis except that clausal ellipsis is external to the verb itself, affecting other elements in the structure of the clause. 18
  19. 19. Clausal Ellipsis 3 Typically ,modal ellipsis occurs in responses to a Wh- questions ‘what (did, does, do): a. What were they doing?- Holding hands.The usual type of non-finite dependent clause is simply a clause with modal ellipsis Typically, propositional ellipsis occurs in responses to statements and yes/no questions, where the subject is presupposed by a reference item: a. The plane has landed.—Has it? b. Has the plane landed?—Yes, it has. 19
  20. 20. Clausal Ellipsis: No ellipsis ofsingle elements 4 It is not possible in English to say: *Has she taken her medicine?-She has taken. Either we must reply with a full ,non- elliptical clause, or we must omit both ‘her medicine’ and the lexical verb ‘take’, or ‘do’ as substitution: She has taken her medicine. Or She has. Or She has done (S). 20
  21. 21. Clausal Ellipsis: Question-Answer 5 The ‘question-answer’ sequence is a standard pattern in language, and the cohesive relation between them has its own characteristic grammatical properties. An observation by a speaker may be followed by an observation by another speaker that is related to it in a cohesive tie. This is called rejoinder. A rejoinder can be direct response or indirect response. A direct response as in yes/no question and wh- questions. Has John arrived? –Yes , he has. When did John arrive?- Yesterday. 21
  22. 22. Clausal Ellipsis: Question-Answer 6An indirect response can be:1- one which comments on the question (commentary):- How did they break in? –I’ll show you how.- Is it Tuesday today? – I don’t know.2- one which denies its relevance (disclaimer):- Why didn’t you tell John? – I did.- When did they cancel the booking?- Did they?3-one which gives supplementary information implying but not actually expressing an answer (supplementary):-Did you tell John?- He wasn’t there.-Are you coming back today?- This evening. 22
  23. 23. Clausal Ellipsis: Indirectsequences 7 This type found in indirect wh- questions, indirect yes/no questions, and indirect statements:- The jewels are missing.– I wonder what else.- Who could have broken those tiles?- I can’t think who.- John was disappointed by the response.—You can ask him.- She might be better living away from home. –I’m not sure.- I wonder if it’ll rain on the day of the picnic.- Probably.- England won the cup. –Who told you?- I think the check is still valid.—The bank can tell them. 23
  24. 24. Thanks aloT 24