Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Previously Published Works bannerUC San Diego

The Real-Time Processing of Sluiced Sentences


Ellipsis refers to an element that is absent from the input but whose meaning can nonetheless be recovered from context. In this cross-modal priming study, we examined the online processing of Sluicing, an ellipsis whose antecedent is an entire clause: The handyman threw a book to the programmer but I don’t know which book the handyman threw to the programmerellipsis. To understand such an elliptical construction, the listener arguably must ‘fill in’ the missing material (“the handyman threw___ to the programmer”) based on that which occurs in the antecedent clause. We aimed to determine the point in time in which reconstruction of the sluiced sentence is attempted and whether such a complex antecedent is re-accessed by the ellipsis. Out of the two antecedent constituents for which we probed, only the Object (programmer) was found active in the elliptical clause, confirming that an antecedent is attributed to the sluice in real time. Possible reasons for the non-observation of the Subject (handyman) are considered. We also suggest that ellipses are detected earlier in coordinated than subordinated sentences.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View