Fragments: Construction and reconstruction

Thematic workshop at the 9th BICLCE, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Workshop organisers: Yolanda Fernández-Pena (Vigo), Gunther Kaltenböck (Graz), Javier Pérez-Guerra (Vigo)

The aim of this workshop is to contribute to the linguistic characterisation of ‘fragments’ in Present-Day English (see Kaltenböck 2007 and Dehé 2014 for a comprehensive approach to the category in spoken language). Fragments are understood here as free-standing, functionally (semantically, discursively, communicatively) felicitous though ‘orphan’, intonationally independent, syntactically defective linguistic units (e.g. Haegeman 1991; Hall 2019). Previous research on fragments focused on, among others, comment clauses (Kaltenböck 2013), parentheticals (Griffiths 2015), appositives (Vries 2012), insubordination constructions (Beijering et al. 2019), Small Clauses (Progovac et al. 2006) and referentiality/dependency/matching issues (Stainton 2006; Harnish 2009).

By adopting an eclectic view that combines empirical (corpus-based, statistical) and theoretical perspectives, this workshop will address a number of research topics and challenges:

  • ellipsis-based or ‘reconstructive’ (Morgan 1973) versus non-sentential perspectives (Stainton 2006);
  • formal characterisation of fragments: syntactic category, syntactic structure, (implicit/explicit) anchors, missing elements (from a reconstruction-based perspective), etc.;
  • corpus-based/driven taxonomies of fragments (Fernández et al. 2007; Bowie and Aarts 2016);
  • constructionalist account of (specific) fragments as form-meaning pairings with varying degrees of conventionalisation (Goldberg and Perek 2019); in other words, can the interpretation of a fragment be triggered/evidenced by its form (or the other way round)?;
  • register-/medium-specific status and function (Bowie and Aarts 2016).

Keywords: fragment, ellipsis, Present-Day English, construction


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Bowie, Jill and Bas Aarts. 2016. Clause fragments in English dialogue. In María José López-Couso, Belén Méndez-Naya, Paloma Núñez-Pertejo and Ignacio M. Palacios-Martínez eds. Corpus linguistics on the move: Exploring and understanding English through corpora, 259–288. Leiden: Brill.

Dehé, Nicole. 2014. Parentheticals in spoken English: The syntax prosody relation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fernández, Raquel, Jonathan Ginzburg and Shalom Lappin. 2007. Classifying non-sentential utterances in dialogue: A machine learning approach. Computational Linguistics 33/3: 397–427.

Goldberg, Adele E. and Florent Perek. 2019. Ellipsis in Construction Grammar. In Jeroen van Craenenbroeck and Tanja Temmerman eds. The Oxford handbook of ellipsis, 188–204. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Griffiths, James. 2015. Parenthetical verb constructions, fragment answers, and constituent modification. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 33/1: 191–229.

Hall, Alison. 2019. Fragments. In Jeroen van Craenenbroeck and Tanja Temmerman eds. The Oxford handbook of ellipsis, 605–623. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Haegeman, L. 1991. Parenthetical adverbials: The radical orphanage approach. In Shuki Chiba, Akira Ogawa, Norio Yamada, Yasuaki Fuiwara, Osama Koma and Takao Yagi eds. Aspects of Modern English linguistics. Papers Presented to Masamoto Ukaji on his 60th Birthday, 232–254. Tokyo: Kaitakushi.

Harnish, Robert M. 2009. The problem of fragments. Two interpretative strategies. Pragmatics & Cognition 17/2: 251–282.

Kaltenböck, Gunther. 2007. Spoken parenthetical clauses in English: A taxonomy. In Nicole Dehé and Yordanka Kavalova eds. Parentheticals, 25–52. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Kaltenböck, Gunther. 2013. Development of comment clauses. In Bas Aarts, Joanne Close, Geoffrey Leech and Sean Wallis eds. The English verb phrase: Investigating recent language change with corpora, 286–317. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Morgan, J. L. 1973. Sentence fragments and the notion ‘sentence’. In Braj B. Kachru, Robert B. Lees, Yakov Malkiel, Angelina Pietrangeli and Sol Saporta eds. Issues in linguistics: Papers in honor of Henry and Renée Kahane, 719–751. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Progovac, Ljiljana, Kate Paesani, Eugenia Casielles and Ellen Barton eds. 2006. The syntax of nonsententials: Multidisciplinary perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Stainton, Robert J. 2006. Neither fragments nor ellipsis. In Ljiljana Progovac, Kate Paesani, Eugenia Casielles and Ellen Barton eds. The syntax of nonsententials: Multidisciplinary perspectives, 93–116. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Vries, Mark de. 2012. Parenthetical main clauses – or not? On appositives and quasi-relatives. In Lobke Aelbrecht, Liliane Haegeman and Rachel Nye eds. Main clause phenomena: New horizons, 178–201. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.