Indefinites in negated intensional contexts An argument for world-skolemized choice functions

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Zahra Mirrazi


This paper introduces a novel scope paradox. Providing data from Farsi, I show that indefinites in the surface syntactic scope of negated intensional operators yield a reading in which the indefinite appears to take wider scope over the negation, and narrow scope with respect to the intensional operator. Genuine generalized quantifiers, in contrast, do not yield such readings. The uniqueness of indefinites in giving rise to such wide pseudo-scope de dicto readings, which are also found within a simple clause, provides evidence that indefinites differ from generalized quantifiers, not only in their ability to take exceptional scope across clause boundaries, but also in their local scopal properties. I argue that the existence of such wide pseudo-scope de dicto readings not only poses a problem for the generalized quantifier view of indefinites, but also for any approach that takes indefinites to scope via syntactic movement. In-situ accounts of indefinites, on the other hand, can straightforwardly account for the new data, without over-generating wide scope de dicto readings (a.k.a. the “fourth readings”) which are widely believed to be impossible (von Fintel & Heim 2011, Keshet & Schwarz 2019, Elliott 2023). I argue that an account in terms of world-Skolemized choice functions is more successful in accounting for the full pattern of the wide pseudo-scope de dicto reading in Farsi, as well as cross-linguistic variation in the availability of such readings.


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Zahra Mirrazi, UCLA

Linguistics, Postdoctoral fellow