Scope Ambiguities with Negative Quantifiers

  • Henriëtte De Swart
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 72)


Jacobs (1980,1991) and Rullmann (1995) claim that lexical decomposition of the German determiner kein ‘no’ and its Dutch counterpart geen ‘no’ is necessary to account for readings in which a scope-bearing operator such as an intensional verb or a universal quantifier intervenes between the negation and the existential quantifier part of the determiner. In this paper, I argue that lexical decomposition is not only undesirable, but empirically incorrect. As an alternative, I develop a higher-order interpretation of negative quantifiers in terms of quantification over properties. The analysis is built on the observation that split readings are restricted to monotone decreasing NPs in predicative positions.


Wide Scope Narrow Scope Existential Quantifier Scope Reading Predicative Position 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abusch, D. 1994. The Scope of Indefinites. Natural Language Semantics 2, 83–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beck, G. 1955/57. Studien über das Deutsche Verbum infinitum. Tübingen: Niemeyer.Google Scholar
  3. Ben-Shalom, D. 1993. Object Wide Scope and Semantic Trees. Proceedings of the Third Conference on Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT 3), Ithaca/NY: DMLL Publications, 19–37.Google Scholar
  4. Carlson, G. 1977. Reference to Kinds in English. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Distributed by Bloomington/IN: Indiana University Linguistics Club. Also by New York: Garland University Press (1979).Google Scholar
  5. Chierchia, G. 1984. Topics in the Syntax and Semantics of Infinitives and Gerunds. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Distributed by Amherst/MA: Graduate Linguistics Student Association (GLSA).Google Scholar
  6. Cooper, R. 1983 Quantification and Syntactic Theory. Dordrecht: Reidel.Google Scholar
  7. Dahl, Ö. 1993. Negation. In: J. Jacobs & A. von Stechow & Th. Vennemann (eds.). Syntax: An International Handbook. Berlin: de Gruyter, 914–923.Google Scholar
  8. Dekker, P. 1993. Trans sentential Meditations: Ups and Downs in Dynamic Semantics. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Amsterdam. Distributed by Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), University of Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  9. Diesing, M. 1992. Indefinites. Cambridge/MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. van Geenhoven, V. 1998. Semantic Incorporation and Indefinite Descriptions. Semantic and Syntactic Aspects of Noun Incorporation in West Greenlandic. Stanford/CA: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  11. Farkas, D. 1995. Specificity and Scope. In: L. Nash & G. Tsoulas (eds.). Langues et Grammaire. Vol. 1,119–137.Google Scholar
  12. Fodor, J. & Sag, I. 1982. Referential and Quantificational Indefinites. Linguistics and Philosophy 5, 355–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Geurts, B. 1996. On No. Journal of Semantics 13, 67–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hendriks, H. 1993. Studied Flexibility: Categories and Types in Syntax and Semantics. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  15. de Hoop, H. 1992. Case Configuration and Noun Phrase Interpretation. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Groningen.Google Scholar
  16. Jacobs, J. 1980. Lexical Decomposition in Montague Grammar. Theoretical Linguistics 7, 121–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jacobs, J. 1991. Negation. In: A. von Stechow & D. Wunderlich (eds.). Semantics: An International Handbook. Berlin: de Gruyter, 560–596.Google Scholar
  18. Klima, E. 1964. Negation in English. In: J. Fodor & J. Katz. The Structure of Language. Englewood Cliffs/NJ: Prentice-Hall, 246–323.Google Scholar
  19. Kratzer, A. 1995. Stage-Level and Individual-Level Predicates. In: G. Carlson & F. Pelletier (eds.). The Generic Book. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 125–175.Google Scholar
  20. Partee, B. 1987. Noun Phrase Interpretation and Type Shifting Principles. In: J. Groenendijk & D. de Jongh & M. Stokhof (eds.). Studies in Discourse Representation Theory and the Theory of Generalized Quantifiers. Dordrecht: Foris, 115–144.Google Scholar
  21. Pollard, C. & Sag, I. 1994. Head Driven Phrase Structure Grammar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  22. Ruys, E. 1993. The Scope of Indefinites. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Utrecht.Google Scholar
  23. Rullmann, H. 1995. Geeneenheid. Tabu 25, 194–197.Google Scholar
  24. de Swart, H. 1995. Negation: Scope and Anaphora. In: H. Kamp & B. Partee (eds.) 1997. Proceedings of the Workshop “Context Dependence in the Analysis of Linguistic Meaning ”. Vol. II: Comments and Replies. Institut für maschinelle Sprachverarbeitung, Universität Stuttgart, 191–205.Google Scholar
  25. de Swart, H. 1997. Indefinites in a Type-Shifting Perspective. In: P. Dekker & M. Stokhof & Y. Venema (eds.). Proceedings of the Eleventh Amsterdam Colloquium. Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), University of Amsterdam, 283-288.Google Scholar
  26. Zimmermann, T. “E.” 1993. On the Proper Treatment of Opacity in Certain Verbs. Natural Language Semantics 1, 149–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henriëtte De Swart

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations