Exceptional wide scope of bare nominals

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Bert Le Bruyn
Henriëtte de Swart


One of the strongest arguments in favor of the kinds approach to bare nominals is that they always take narrow scope with respect to other scope bearing operators in the sentence (Carlson 1977; Chierchia 1998; Dayal 2011). The publications supporting the obligatory narrow scope of bare nominals in a wide range of typologically different languages vastly outnumber the ones that claim the opposite. In this paper, we survey the facts from the literature, work out how the kinds approach deals with them, and identify scrambled bare plurals as the ultimate challenge for the kinds approach. Dutch examples illustrate that scrambled bare plurals unambiguously take wide scope with respect to quantifiers and negation, while maintaining kind reference. The kinds approach proves unable to derive the wide scope reading of bare plurals under a surface-oriented composition of scrambled objects. Once we abandon the default kind shift, following Krifka (2004), and allow bare plurals to directly shift to an existential interpretation, we can easily derive the wide scope reading with a local type repair. We conclude that a flexible type shifting approach to bare nominals is preferred over a default kind shift for empirical reasons.


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