Chapter published in:Approaches to Hungarian: Volume 15: Papers from the 2015 Leiden Conference
Edited by Harry van der Hulst and Anikó Lipták
[Approaches to Hungarian 15] 2017
► pp. 209–238
Focus and quantifier scope
An experimental study of Hungarian
The scope interpretation of doubly quantified sentences is known to be influenced by a variety of contextual factors, among them, Information Structure. While the topic status of an NP has been recurrently argued to give rise to wide scope, the effect of focus status remains controversial: in the literature it has been linked both to narrow scope and to wide scope. This paper presents an empirical study designed to explore whether the focus status of a quantified NP affects its scope-taking options by biasing its interpretation either towards narrow scope or towards wide scope with regard to another, non-focal and non-topical quantified NP in its background. The experiment is based on a rating task using contextualized target sentences accompanied by visual stimuli. While the study detects a mild advantage of linear scope over inverse scope, as well as a markedness effect of the post-verbal placement of focus, the focus status of quantified NPs is not found to interact with their scope interpretation. From a broader perspective, the finding that focus sharply differs from topic in terms of (the lack of) its effect on scope corroborates approaches that view topic and focus as belonging to two distinct dimensions of Information Structure.
Published online: 24 August 2017
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