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Illusive wide scope of universal quantifiers

By Uli Sauerland and Danny Fox


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)

Topics: ddc:400
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

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