Detection and Resolution of Verb Phrase Ellipsis

Marjorie McShane, Petr Babkin


Verb phrase (VP) ellipsis is the omission of a verb phrase whose mean- ing can be reconstructed from the linguistic or real-world context. It is licensed in English by auxiliary verbs, often modal auxiliaries: She can go to Hawaii but he can’t [e]. This paper describes a system called ViPER (VP Ellipsis Resolver) that detects and resolves VP ellipsis, relying on linguistic principles such as syntactic parallelism, modality correlations, and the delineation of core vs. peripheral sentence con- stituents. The key insight guiding the work is that not all cases of el- lipsis are equally difficult: some can be detected and resolved with high confidence even before we are able to build systems with human-level semantic and pragmatic understanding of text. 


VP ellipsis; rule-based NLP; syntactic parallelism; modality

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