Sentence-internal "same" and its quantificational licensors: A new window into the processing of inverse scope

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Adrian Brasoveanu
Jakub Dotlačil


This paper investigates the processing of sentence-internal "same" with four licensors ("all", "each", "every" and "the") in two orders: licensor+"same (surface scope) and "same"+licensor (inverse scope). Our two self-paced reading studies show that there is no general effect of surface vs. inverse scope, which we take as an argument for a model-oriented view of the processing cost of inverse scope: the inverse scope of quantifiers seems to be costly because of model structure reanalysis, not because of covert scope operations.

The second result is methodological: the psycholinguistic investigation of semantic phenomena like the interaction of quantifiers and sentence-internal readings should always involve a context that prompts a deep enough processing of the target expressions. In one of our two studies, participants read the target sentences after reading a scenario introducing the two sets of entities the quantifier NP and the same NP referred to and they were asked to determine whether the sentence was true or false relative to the background scenario every time. In the other study, the participants read the same sentences without any context and there were fewer follow-up comprehension questions. The relevant effects observed in the study with contexts completely disappeared in the out-of-context study, although the participants in both studies were monitored for their level of attention to the experimental task.

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