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Adrian Brasoveanu

(with Kristen Syrett and Atsushi Oho)

UC Santa Cruz

The scope of comparative quantifier phrases in object position

Abstract: We present a set of four experiments probing the scopal behavior of  comparative quantifier phrases (CQPs) like "more than five books" in object position relative to a singular indefinite in subject position -- a key linguistic environment at the heart of this debate. Our results make two major contributions. First, they demonstrate that CQPs have a wider scopal range than has typically been assumed  in the theoretical literature, and than what is allowed by current decompositional accounts (Fleisher 2015; Takahashi 2006): object CQPs can uncontroversially take wide scope over an indefinite subject. The results therefore argue for treating CQPs as generalized quantifiers (e.g., Mayr & Spector 2012), or at least as expressions with scopal behavior similar to generalized quantifiers. Second, they shed light on the processing factors and felicity conditions contributing to the perceived relatively limited scope of object CQPs. We end by sketching a proposal that can account for the way (some of) these factors constrain CQP scope.