Bare nominals: Non-specific and contrastive Readings under scrambling
|Abstract||This article explores the empirical validity of the generalization that scrambling of indefinites correlates with the loss of non-specific readings.1 There are two issues relevant to the generalization that have not been fully investigated in previous literature. The first is the status of contrastive readings, which do survive scrambling. If contrastive readings are non-specific, and it is argued here that in some cases they must be, the generalization has to be restated to prohibit non-specific indefinites from scrambling without the additional support of contrast. It will be shown, furthermore, that a more liberal notion of contrast than is generally assumed is sufficient to license the scrambling of non-specifics. The second issue relevant to the generalization is the directionality of scrambling. The constraint on scrambling of nonspecifics must be restricted to leftward scrambling since rightward scrambling readily allows non-specific readings without contrast. The article uses these empirical facts to assess current approaches to the question of how syntactic displacement relates to interpretation. The fact that non-specific readings are preserved under scrambling, albeit with contrast, suggests that scrambling cannot be restricted to a class of expressions we may be willing to classify as specific. Approaches that take scrambled nominals to be mapped outside the domain where nonspecific readings could arise also appear to be untenable. An approach that allows expressions to scramble, regardless of their inherent or compositional semantics, but imposes discourse requirements appears more promising. Obviously, such requirements would have to be sensitive to the directionality of scrambling, since contrast behaves differently in the two cases. The ultimate goal is to identify discourse principles which would explain why contrast plays a crucial role in preserving non-specific readings of leftward scrambled nominals, but is not required for preserving such readings of rightward scrambled nominals..|
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