, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 91-134

Explaining Crossover and Superiority as Left-to-right Evaluation

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We present a general theory of scope and binding in which both crossover and superiority violations are ruled out by one key assumption: that natural language expressions are normally evaluated (processed) from left to right. Our theory is an extension of Shan’s (2002) account of multiple-wh questions, combining continuations (Barker, 2002) and dynamic type-shifting. Like other continuation-based analyses, but unlike most other treatments of crossover or superiority, our analysis is directly compositional (in the sense of, e.g., Jacobson, 1999). In particular, it does not postulate a level of Logical Form or any other representation distinct from surface syntax. One advantage of using continuations is that they are the standard tool for modeling order-of-evaluation in programming languages. This provides us with a natural and independently motivated characterization of what it means to evaluate expressions from left to right. We give a combinatory categorial grammar that models the syntax and the semantics of quantifier scope and wh-question formation. It allows quantificational binding but not crossover, in-situ wh but not superiority violations. In addition, the analysis automatically accounts for a variety of sentence types involving binding in the presence of pied piping, including reconstruction cases such as Whose criticism of his i mother did each person i resent?

Thanks to Daniel Büring, Svetlana Godjevac, Pauline Jacobson, Gerhard Jäger, Chris Potts, Ivan Sag, Philippe Schlenker, Stuart Shieber, and our anonymous referees. We also profited greatly from discussions with audiences at: the Brown Workshop on Direct Compositionality; Rutgers; NYU; and at the 2004 ESSLLI, the Workshop on Syntax, Semantics and Pragmatics of Questions, and the Workshop on Semantic Approaches to Binding. The first author was supported at Harvard University by National Science Foundation Grants IRI-9712068 and BCS-0236592.