Illusive Scope of Universal Quantifiers

In Jill Beckman (ed.), Proceedings of NELS 26. GLSA, UMass Amhert (1997)
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Abstract

It is widely believed that existential quantifiers can bring about the semantic effects of a scope which is wider than their actual syntactic scope (See Fodor & Sag (1982), Cresti (1995), Kratzer (1995), Reinhart (1995) and Winter (1995), among many others.) On the other hand, it is assumed that the syntactic scope of universal quantifiers can be determined unequivocally by the semantics. This paper shows that this second assumption is wrong; universal quantifiers can also bring about scope illusions, though in a very specific environment. In particular, we argue that in the environment of generic tense, universal quantifiers can show the semantic effects of a scope which is wider than the one that is actually realized at LF. Our argument has four steps. First, we show that in generic contexts, universal quantifiers escape standard “scope-islands” (Section 1). Second, we show how the effects of wide scope in generic contexts can be achieved without syntactic wide scope (Section 2.1). Third, we show that this result is actually forced on us, once we take seriously certain independent issues concerning the interpretation of generic tense (Sections 2.2 - 2.4). Finally, the semantics of generic tense and, in particular, its interaction with focus, will yield some intricate new predictions, which, as we show, are borne out (Sections 3 - 5).

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Citations of this work

Situations in natural language semantics.Angelika Kratzer - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Economy and scope.Danny Fox - 1995 - Natural Language Semantics 3 (3):283-341.

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References found in this work

Restrictions on Quantifier Domains.Kai von Fintel - 1994 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Genericity: An Introduction.Manfred Krifka, Francis Jeffry Pelletier, Gregory Carlson, Alice ter Meulen, Gennaro Chierchia & Godehard Link - 1995 - In Greg N. Carlson & Francis Jeffry Pelletier (eds.), The Generic Book. University of Chicago Press. pp. 1--124.
An investigation of the lumps of thought.Angelika Kratzer - 1989 - Linguistics and Philosophy 12 (5):607 - 653.
Binding Implicit Variables in Quantified Contexts.Barbara Partee - 1989 - In Caroline Wiltshire, Randolph Graczyk & Bradley Music (eds.), CLS. pp. 342-365.
Referential and quantificational indefinites.Janet Dean Fodor & Ivan A. Sag - 1982 - Linguistics and Philosophy 5 (3):355 - 398.

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