4) Table 1 shows that sprouting is not restricted to Late OE, though, nor does it show any steep increase in its frequency relative to that of sluicing as it moves from Early to Late OE (around 18% in both periods).
While it is essential that one appeal to the authentic/translated distinction, the distinction itself fails to shed new light on how sluicing and sprouting came about.
To stretch this point to its logical conclusion, an approach along these lines could also explain and interpret inference-based and situationally-controlled sluicing, recorded in PDE, as driven by mental images/notes evoked by overt antecedents.
Overall, it is essential that linguists not lose sight of syntax, since the DOE corpus sees sluicing controlled by syntax in 142 (entire or partial syntactic control) out of 165 instances.
Note that both authentic and translated texts signal a similar asymmetry between the relation of the instances of sprouting to those of sluicing (but consider that non-embedded sprouting achieves the frequency rate of 100% in Table 5).
It is a safe assumption then that a felicitous account of sluicing, and ellipsis in general, is best framed in terms of syntactic and semantic licensing with an option of admitting pragmatics, where both embedded and non-embedded orphans contribute to the analysis.
The status of sluicing as a syntax-unrelated rule, however, has not been accepted.
For one thing, sluicing requires a structurally identical antecedent (syntactic licensing) by default, even if this requirement has been subject to relaxation ever since Early OE.
The other conclusion mirrors Ginzburg and Sag's argument in that it addresses the part that embedding plays in sluicing.
Merchant, Jason 2001 The syntax of silence: sluicing, islands, and the theory of ellipsis.
1) I wish to express my thanks to Ivan Sag for information and discussions about sluicing, and to Matti Kilpio and Matti Rissanen for comments and guidance on my research.