Natural Language Semantics

, 16:205

The Question–Answer Requirement for scope assignment


    • Utrecht Institute of LinguisticsOTS
  • Sarah Hulsey
    • Department of Linguistics and PhilosophyMIT
    • Linguistics ProgramNortheastern University
  • Valentine Hacquard
    • Department of LinguisticsUniversity of Maryland
  • Danny Fox
    • Department of Linguistics and PhilosophyMIT
Open AccessArticle

DOI: 10.1007/s11050-008-9029-z

Cite this article as:
Gualmini, A., Hulsey, S., Hacquard, V. et al. Nat Lang Semantics (2008) 16: 205. doi:10.1007/s11050-008-9029-z


This paper focuses on children’s interpretation of sentences containing negation and a quantifier (e.g., The detective didn’t find some guys). Recent studies suggest that, although children are capable of accessing inverse scope interpretations of such sentences, they resort to surface scope to a larger extent than adults. To account for children’s behavioral pattern, we propose a new factor at play in Truth Value Judgment tasks: the Question–Answer Requirement (QAR). According to the QAR, children (and adults) must interpret the target sentence that they evaluate as an answer to a question that is made salient by the discourse.


Language acquisitionNegationScope ambiguitiesAmbiguity resolution
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© The Author(s) 2008