Brasoveanu, Adrian 2008. Decomposing Quantification

to appear in Phi-Book / 2007.

Providing a compositional interpretation procedure for discourses in which descriptions of complex dependencies between interrelated objects are incrementally built is a key challenge for formal theories of natural language interpretation. This paper examines several phenomena that are central to natural language semantics (donkey anaphora, quantificational and modal subordination, exceptional scope and the interpretation of same / different) and argues that they receive a unified compositional account if such dependencies are encoded by means of sets of variable assignments that are passed on between different parts of the same sentence and, also, across sentential boundaries. The main proposal is that natural language quantification is a composite notion, to be decomposed / analyzed in terms of discourse reference to quantificational dependencies that is multiply constrained by the various components that make up a quantifier.