Structural Asymmetry in Question/Quantifier Interactions

  • Asya AchimovaEmail author
  • Viviane Déprez
  • Julien Musolino
Part of the Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics book series (SITP, volume 47)


The interaction of universal quantifiers and wh-phrases in questions, such as Which class did every student take?, gives rise to structural ambiguities. The availability of pair-list answers (Mary took Syntax, and Jane took Semantics) to such questions reveals whether the quantifier can take wide scope over the wh. In this paper, we use an acceptability judgment task to test whether, as some theoretical accounts suggest (e.g. May 1985), the quantifier position affects the likelihood of an inverse scope reading for distributive quantifiers, such as every and each. We show that pair-list answers remain less available for questions with object quantifiers than for questions with subject quantifiers even when the quantifier is each (contra Beghelli 1997). At the same time, speakers find pair-list answers to questions with each more acceptable than to questions with every, confirming that the distributivity force of a quantifier also plays a role. We discuss how these findings fit into the existing analyses of quantifier scope in relation to quantifier semantics and discourse structure.



We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions. We are also grateful for the valuable feedback we received at the Budapest Workshop on Linguistic and Cognitive Aspects of Quantification.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asya Achimova
    • 1
    Email author
  • Viviane Déprez
    • 2
    • 3
  • Julien Musolino
    • 4
  1. 1.Linguistics ProgramWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Department of LinguisticsRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.L2C2, CNRSFrench Academy of SciencesLyonFrance
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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