Quantification and ACD: Evidence from Real-Time Sentence Processing

Journal of Semantics 29 (2):145-206 (2012)
Quantifiers, unlike proper names or definite descriptions, cannot be given the semantics of referring expressions. This fact has triggered a long-standing debate in formal semantics and syntax as to the combinatorial means by which quantifiers are integrated into a sentence. The present paper contributes to this debate through an investigation of quantifier comprehension during real-time sentence processing. We present evidence showing that two potentially independent processes—the integration of a quantifier in object position and the resolution of antecedent-contained deletion (ACD)—are linked. Our data show, more specifically, that the resolution of a downstream ACD site is facilitated during real-time sentence processing if the upstream DP hosting the ACD site is quantificational but not if it is definite. We discuss these findings in the context of a QUANTIFIER RAISING-based approach and a type-shifting-based approach to quantifier integration. We argue that facilitation of ACD resolution by an upstream quantifier is only expected by theories, such as the QUANTIFIER RAISING approach, which employ the same mechanism for both processes. We then compare the QUANTIFIER RAISING-based account with a non-grammatical experience-based approach to our data, which attempts to explain the findings in terms of corpus frequencies. Although we cannot rule out such an alternative at this stage, we offer reasons to believe that an account that exploits QUANTIFIER RAISING has an explanatory advantage
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DOI 10.1093/jos/ffr009
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