Proformen und Ellipsen : Zur Syntax und Diskurspragmatik prädikativer Anaphern im Deutschen und im Schwedischen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This thesis explores different aspects of the syntax and discoursepragmatics of predicative anaphors(i.e. proforms and ellipsis)in German and Swedish. The types of anaphoric constructions considered in the analysis are: (i) overt predicative proform expressions, instantiated by the neuter proform "es"/"das" in German and "det" in Swedish, and (ii) covert elliptical instantiations, reminiscent of the VP ellipsis in English. The main part of the analyzed data originates from German and Swedish language corpora, consisting of both written and oral texts. The objective of this thesis is twofold:
As a first step, it investigates the core syntactic and, to some extent, the information-structural properties of the predicative proform and ellipsis constructions in German and Swedish. Using anaphora and ellipsis accounts proposed for the English VP ellipsis and, to some degree, its related overt proform expressions ("do it"/"do so") as the point of departure, it is argued that the German and Swedish counterparts appear in similar verbal surroundings. In addition, parallel to the English deletion anaphora, the remnants of the target sentence (subject and auxiliary) may have various discourse functions. Still, the German and Swedish predicative proform and deletion constructions radically differ from the English VP ellipsis. Drawing on syntactic extraction tests, significant differences emerge with respect to the structural make-up of the anaphoric element. Whilst the English-style VP ellipsis shows evidence for the presence of an internal structure, the Swedish and German predicative anaphors all behave as categories without any segmental representation. Also, the morphosyntactic licensing mechanism, generally assumed to hold for the English VP ellipsis, does not extend to German and Swedish. However, differences emerge also when comparing German and Swedish; in contrast to German, Swedish exhibits a quite productive sentence final predicative null anaphor.
As a second step, the thesis addresses the question of the identity requirement holding between the predicative anaphor and its antecedent (i.e. reference resolution). Throughout, an interpretive approach is adopted in order to account for the various kinds of formal mismatches observed in the naturally occurring data. From a cross-linguistic and cross-constructional perspective, the VP ellipsis in English seems to pattern with the overt and covert anaphors in German and in Swedish. This suggests that the reference resolution mechanism is independent of the issue of whether the predicative anaphor/ellipsis contains syntactic structure or not.


  • Jenny Ström Herold
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • pseudogapping, proverb, proform, predicative anaphora, deep/surface anaphora, auxiliaries in German, auxiliaries in Swedish, strict/sloppy reading, topic drop, VP ellipsis
Original languageGerman
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2009 Oct 17
  • ab
Print ISBNs978-91-85333-27-1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2009-10-17 Time: 10:15 Place: Sal L403, Lingvisthuset, Språk- och litteraturcentrum, Helgonabacken 12, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Hartmann, Katharina Title: fil.dr Affiliation: Philosophische Fakultät II, Institut für deutsche Sprache und Linguistik, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin ---