Scope and binding

In von Heusinger, Maienborn & Portner (eds.), Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning, Vol. 2. de Gruyter Mouton (2011)
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Abstract

The first part of this article (Sections 1–5) focuses on the classical notions of scope and binding and their formal foundations. It argues that once their semantic core is properly understood, it can be implemented in various different ways: with or without movement, with or without variables. The second part (Sections 6–12) takes up the empirical issues that have redrawn the map in the past two decades. It turns out that scope is not a primitive. Existential scope and distributive scope have to be distinguished, leaving few if any run-of-the-mill quantifiers. Scope behavior is also not uniform. At least three classes of expressions emerge: indefinites, distributive universals, and counters. Likewise, the bound variable interpretation of pronouns is joined by co-variation with situations. As a result, the classical notions of scope and binding are likely to end up as building blocks in the varied mechanisms at work in “scope phenomena” and “binding phenomena”, and not as self-contained analyses of those phenomena.

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