Abstract

This article critically examines Aoun and Li's (1993) syntactic analysis of quantifier scope interpretations in English, Chinese, and Japanese, and it shows that (i) there are serious theoretical problems with Aoun and Li's account of scope interpretations for the double object and topicalization constructions; (ii) there are ambiguous sentences that Aoun and Li's analysis predicts to be unambiguous; and (iii) there are unambiguous sentences which their analysis predicts to be ambiguous. While problem (iii) makes their analysis insufficient, problems (i) and (ii) make it untenable. We propose a quantifier scope analysis that is free from any of the above three problems. We claim that the quantifier scope interpretations of a given sentence result from the interactions of various principles, some syntactic, others nonsyntactic. We propose an expert system that takes all these principles into consideration, and arrives at a composite opinion of the relative strengths of the potential scope interpretations of a given sentence. We speculate that wide idiolectal variations in quantifier scope interpretations are due to differences among speakers on the relative weights these principles receive in their respective expert systems.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 63-111
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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