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Branching Quantifiers

  • Jakub SzymanikEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 96)

Abstract

This chapter is devoted to a particularly intriguing quantifier construction: branching. Branching interpretations of some natural language sentences are intractable, and therefore, their occurrence in natural language is far from obvious. I start by discussing the thesis formulated by Hintikka, which says that certain natural language sentences require nonlinear quantification to express their meaning. Then, I discuss a novel alternative reading for potentially branching sentences, the so-called two-way reading. This reading is expressible by a linear formula and is tractable. I compare the two-way reading to other possible interpretations and argue that it is the best representation for the meaning of Hintikka-like sentences. Next, I describe an experiment providing empirical support for the two-way reading. The basic assumption here is that a criterion for the adequacy of a meaning representation is its compatibility with sentence truth-conditions. This can be established by observing the linguistic behavior of language users. I report on experiments showing that people tend to interpret sentences similar to Hintikka’s sentence in a way consistent with the two-way interpretation.

Keywords

Branching (Henkin) quantifiers Hintikka’s thesis Two-way reading Barwise sentence Negation normality Inferential test Symmetricity Existential fragment of second-order logic Intractability Experiments 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Logic, Language and ComputationUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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