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Masha on exceptives at Chicago

March 8, Maria Polinsky limns The Landscape of Exceptives in a colloquium talk at the University of Chicago.


Exceptives are constructions that express exclusion, e.g. "The New York Times subscription includes daily access to all online content, except the crossword puzzles." The main components of exceptives include a restricted quantifier phrase (all online content in the example above) and the exceptive phrase (except the crossword puzzles in the example above). Researchers recognize two kinds of exceptives: connected and free. In connected exceptives, the exceptive phrase is a nominal modifier attached to the restricted quantifier phrase, as in the example above. In free exceptives, the exceptive phrase is a clause-peripheral clausal modifier expressing an exception to the generalization stated in the main clause (Except (for) the crossword puzzles, the New York Times subscription includes daily access to all online content). I will compare data from English and Russian and use that comparison to argue that free exceptives are not a cross-linguistically uniform syntactic phenomenon. In English, free exceptives (formed with except XP) are derived by clausal ellipsis; the same analysis applies to Russian free exceptives with a conjunction (krome kak). Meanwhile, Russian prepositional exceptives are derived in a different manner, namely as phrasal adjuncts. Given the different possible derivations of free exceptives, it is critical to understand whether the choice between the phrasal and clausal strategies is determined by independent properties of a given language. I present several hypotheses concerning the cross-linguistic distribution of clausal and phrasal free exceptives. I also discuss the relation between exceptive constructions and ellipsis, especially in connection to island violation repairs.