Empty nouns (ENs) and NP ellipsis (NPE) have different resolution conditions, and maybe different depths.
EN vs. NPE in (say) German
(1) and (2) differ in the requirements they place on contexts they could be used in.
- Geben Sie mir das Teuerste, was Sie haben.
- Geben Sie mir den teuersten, den Sie haben.
The pair would not work nearly the same way in English. How so? It would in Norwegian (Jeg skal få det/den dyreste dere har), but the German one features two extra differences, over and above gender…
Deep and surface, endophoric and exophoric
Saab (2018) subsumes NPE (NP-ellipsis) under 'surface anaphora' and ENs (empty noun constructions) under 'deep anaphora'. (40a), rendered here as (3), is a typical instance of the latter:
- een blinde // a blind // 'a blind person'
(57a), rendered below as (4), is also argued to be an instance of the latter – because the anaphora resolution is 'exophoric' (see, for example, Ginzburg 2013, Rethinking Deep and Surface: towards a comprehensive model of anaphoric processes in dialogue):
- [pointing to a red skirt; pollera is feminine in Spanish] Dame la roja. // give.IMP.2SG:CL.1SG DET:F[SG] red:F[SG] // 'Give me the red one.'
Now isn't that problematic? Could there be other ways to look at it?