A. Brasoveanu & D.F. Farkas 2009Scope and the Grammar of Choice

The paper proposes a novel solution to the problem of scope posed by natural language indefinites that captures both the difference in scopal freedom between indefinites and quantifiers -- indefinites have free upwards scope, disregarding not only clausal but also island boundaries -- and the fact that the scopal freedom of indefinites is nonetheless syntactically constrained. Following the main insight of independence-friendly logic, the special scopal properties of indefinites are attributed to the fact that their semantics can be stated in terms of choosing a suitable witness. This is in contrast to "bona fide" quantifiers, the semantics of which crucially involves relations between sets of entities. The syntactic constraints on the interpretation of indefinites follow from the fact that witness choice arises as a natural consequence of the process of (syntax-based) compositional interpretation of sentences and it is not encapsulated into the lexical meaning of indefinites, as choice / Skolem function approaches to exceptional scope would have it.