Introduction to Ways of Scope Taking, Kluwer, 1997, xiii-xxi

Syntactic and semantic theories of quantificational phenomena traditionally treat all noun phrases alike, thus predicting that noun phrases exhibit a uniform behavior. It is well-known that this is an idealization: in any given case, some noun phrases will support a desired reading more readily than others. Anyone who has lectured on quantifier scope ambiguities to a class of unbrainwashed undergraduates will recall the amount of preparation time that goes into coming up with two or three examples that the class will judge to be ambiguous in exactly the ways the theory under discussion predicts. The same experience with ``good citizens'' and ``bad citizens'' repeats itself in connection with branching, anaphora, distributive versus collective readings, extraction, event quantification, pair-list questions, and so on. Is the assumption of uniformity a theoretically necessary idealization, then, or is it an overgeneralization based on a small body of initial data? There is no doubt that, to some extent, it is a necessary idealization. To what extent it is, though, depends on how systematic the patterns of deviation turn out to be, and how coherent and interesting theoretical accounts can be devised for those patterns. The unique contribution of this volume consists in scrutinizing large bodies of data, both well-known and novel, from a theoretical perspective and arguing that the patterns emerging are systematic and significant enough to prompt rather fundamental revisions of the standard accounts. In proposing alternatives, many of the papers follow a heuristic that may be summarized as follows: The range of quantifiers that participate in a given process is suggestive of exactly what that process consists in. Instead of devising omnivorous rules that apply to all quantifiers and then need to be constrained in various, sometimes ad hoc, ways, it is proposed that the grammar of quantification involves a variety of distinct, often semantically conditioned, processes..
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