Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 91–134

Explaining Crossover and Superiority as Left-to-right Evaluation


    • Department of Computer Science and Center for Cognitive ScienceRutgers, the State University of New Jersey
  • Chris Barker
    • 0108 Department of LinguisticsUniversity of California San Diego

DOI: 10.1007/s10988-005-6580-7

Cite this article as:
Shan, C. & Barker, C. Linguistics & Philosophy (2006) 29: 91. doi:10.1007/s10988-005-6580-7


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 hisi mother did each personi resent?

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© Springer 2006