Author Topic: Quantifier scope  (Read 317 times)

Offline binumal

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Quantifier scope
« on: May 25, 2018, 12:06:58 PM »
Consider the following sentence
1. Everyone in MIT knows two languages-
Clearly , the sentence has two readings, a wide scope reading for 'two languages' and a narrow scope reading for the same QP.
In my mother tongue, the narrow scope reading is absent in constructions like this. I shall give an example below.
2. M.I.T yil             ellavarkkum rantu  bhaasha     ariyaam.
   M.IT.  Loc.            every/all     two   languages    Know.Modal.--------------------------------The sentence could only mean that every one in MIT knows only 2 particular languages ( say,English and Sanskrit ) .The sentence cannot mean they know any two language.
My question is whether  there are any other language in which the narrow scope reading is absent.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Quantifier scope
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2018, 11:17:34 PM »
I don't know about that in other languages, but I will comment than in English the opposite is very strongly suggested. Both readings are possible, but the narrow scope is much more likely.
In Malayalam, is it possible to force the reading in the right context?

"Almost everyone in the United States is monolingual, but because they have so many diverse language classes at MIT, ALMOST EVERYONE AT MIT knows two (or more) languages!"
If the narrow scope reading is still not possible, that's very strange to my English native speaker ears, which makes Malayalam interesting.
If that makes the narrow scope reading possible (in context), then that means English and Malayalam are proper opposites in this regard, because in English the default is strongly the narrow scope but that can be shifted pragmatically. (Maybe it's not as strong a bias as in Malayalam, I don't know. But I'd say that the average English speaker wouldn't really be aware of that reading unless it was in the context of explaining the logic of ambiguity, or in very specific pragmatic contexts.)
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Offline binumal

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Re: Quantifier scope
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2018, 11:45:10 AM »

In Malayalam, is it possible to force the reading in the right context?

"Almost everyone in the United States is monolingual, but because they have so many diverse language classes at MIT, ALMOST EVERYONE AT MIT knows two (or more) languages!"
If the narrow scope reading is still not possible, that's very strange to my English native speaker ears, which makes Malayalam interesting.
If that makes the narrow scope reading possible (in context), then that means English and Malayalam are proper opposites in this regard, because in English the default is strongly the narrow scope but that can be shifted pragmatically. (Maybe it's not as strong a bias as in Malayalam, I don't know. But I'd say that the average English speaker wouldn't really be aware of that reading unless it was in the context of explaining the logic of ambiguity, or in very specific pragmatic contexts.)
Yes, It is possible to force the narrow scope reading( by adding  a  word say ethenkilum(roughly  any of ) . But ,still the most natural reading of the sentence is that in which 2 languages get wide scope reading.

Offline binumal

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Re: Quantifier scope
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2018, 11:09:09 AM »
One more question,if you wont mind. See the sentence below

  1. There was a statue   in every corner of the building- Here the narrow scope reading of 'a statue' is most natural ,Isnt it? But see the following sentence
  2. There was a book in every library I visited - Here the most natural reading is is that in which 'a book' gets wide scope reading. - Does that  mean the ambiguity is essentially semantic?- That is, syntax give the choices from which semantics pick the most apt meaning.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Quantifier scope
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2018, 02:26:07 PM »
Asking about the "natural" interpretation of these sentences in isolation is not good practice. (But common in Linguistics research.)

1. Yes, the narrow reading is much more natural. Possibly a structural default. But obviously from context it would be physically impossible for a single statue to be simultaneously in many places at once, so only an incredibly weird building with only adjacent corners and a statue sticking through the walls would permit the wide scope. So that is "natural".

2. Probably because of priming the narrow scope reading was default for me here. Or maybe it's also a structural default. But that meaning is not so pragmatically relevant-- of course there is at least one book in a library, or it's not a library. So based on, e.g., relevance/informativeness, I would assume you'd say "many books" for that sort of reading, that than the implication of "only one book"-- this is a scalar implicature. Therefore, the reading I'd probably end up on would be the one where one particular book (e.g., wide scope) is found in each library (Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet or whatever).

Quote
That is, syntax give the choices from which semantics pick the most apt meaning.
Well, yes, but better:
Parsing linear sequences of words in an utterance via syntax involves choices based on pragmatics to pick the most apt semantics.
(Of course it might instead be that there are simply multiple different meanings activated or at least available and then we pick one. That's a question for psycholinguistics though.)
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