Quantifier Scope in Formal Linguistics

  • E.G. Ruys
  • Yoad Winter
Part of the Handbook of Philosophical Logic book series (HALO, volume 16)


The remarkable efficiency of language acquisition and linguistic communication must rely on some systematic mapping relating forms and meanings. As a result of this understanding, the study of the relations between syntactic and semantic descriptions has become a central element of all formal linguistic theories. Problems of quantifier scope constitute a perennial challenge for uncovering the relations between form and meaning. In some notorious examples, a linguistic element behaves semantically like a logical quantifier, but in a way that is not predicted from straightforward assumptions about its semantics or its position in the syntactic description. In many of these cases, a quantificational expression semantically behaves as if it appeared in a different position than its actual position in the sentence. Such effects are often referred to as inverse scope effects. Standard mechanisms that account for these phenomena often complicate the relations between the syntax and the semantics of natural language. As a result, much research has been devoted to the problem of quantifier scope, in an enduring attempt to reveal the status and the theoretical significance of scope shifting principles in formal linguistics.


Noun Phrase Choice Function Relative Clause Translation Rule Scope Reading 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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