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Exploring the existential/universal ambiguity in singular donkey sentences

Sun, C; Rothschild, D; Breheny, R; (2020) Exploring the existential/universal ambiguity in singular donkey sentences. Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung , 24 (2) pp. 289-305. 10.18148/sub/2020.v24i2.898. Green open access

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Abstract

Although widely discussed in the semantics literature, donkey sentences have been the subject of very little experimental study. In this paper, we present experimental work that is aimed at addressing somewhat open questions around donkey sentences with determiners other than ‘every’ and their susceptibility to both Universal and Existential readings. Our experiments test donkey sentences with ‘every’, ‘no’, ‘some’ and ‘more than two’. By using both verification and act-out tasks, we are able to show that Universal readings are available for donkey sentences with existential determiners (specifically, ‘more than two’), as well as Existential readings. However, our studies fail to show that sentences with ‘no’ have a Universal reading, and they also provide some evidence against the idea that ‘no’ sentences have dual readings.

Type: Article
Title: Exploring the existential/universal ambiguity in singular donkey sentences
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.18148/sub/2020.v24i2.898
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2020.v24i2.898
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: donkey sentences, truth value judgments, act-out task
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Linguistics
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10118743
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