The Scope of Indefinites

  • Carmen Dobrovie-Sorin
  • Claire Beyssade
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 85)


In contexts where indefinite DPs co-occur with quantificational DPs, intensional predicates, negation or quantificational adverbs, they generate interpretive effects that have been traditionally analyzed in terms of scope. In this chapter, we show that so-called scope effects in fact depend on the denotation of indefinite DPs: weak indefinites take obligatory narrow scope, intermediate and wide scope being allowed only for individual-denoting indefinites. We propose to analyze scope interpretive effects in terms of dependency relations and we show that only referential indefinites (i.e. e-type indefinites) can be dependent. We represent dependent indefinites as Skolem terms, the reference of which co-varies with the quantificational DPs on which they depend. As for e-type indefinite DPs which are not dependent, they are specific and function as constants.


Choice Function Narrow Scope Existential Quantifier Scope Reading Existential Closure 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carmen Dobrovie-Sorin
    • 1
  • Claire Beyssade
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Linguistique FormelleUniversity of Paris 7 UMR 7110-CNRSParisFrance
  2. 2.Jean Nicod InstituteUMR 8129 CNRS, ENS, EHESSParisFrance

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