Scope processing in Chinese

Peng Zhou*, Liqun Gao

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)
    20 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    The standard view maintains that quantifier scope interpretation results from an interaction between different modules: the syntax, the semantics as well as the pragmatics. Thus, by examining the mechanism of quantifier scope interpretation, we will certainly gain some insight into how these different modules interact with one another. To observe it, two experiments, an offline judgment task and an eye-tracking experiment, were conducted to investigate the interpretation of doubly quantified sentences in Chinese, like Mei-ge qiangdao dou qiang-le yi-ge yinhang (Every robber robbed a bank). According to current literature, doubly quantified sentences in Chinese like the above are unambiguous, which can only be interpreted as "for every robber x, there is a bank y, such that x robbed y"(surface scope reading), contrary to their ambiguous English counterparts, which also allow the interpretation that "there is a bank y, such that for every robber x, x robbed y"(inverse scope reading). Specifically, three questions were examined, that is, (i) What is the initial reading of doubly quantified sentences in Chinese? (ii) Whether inverse scope interpretation can be available if appropriate contexts are provided? (iii) What are the processing time courses engaged in quantifier scope interpretation? The results showed that (i) Initially, the language processor computes the surface scope representation and the inverse scope representation in parallel, thus, doubly quantified sentences in Chinese are ambiguous; (ii) The discourse information is not employed in initial processing of relative scope, it serves to evaluate the two representations in reanalysis; (iii) The lexical information of verbs affects their scope-taking patterns. We suggest that these findings provide evidence for the Modular Model, one of the major contenders in the literature on sentence processing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)11-24
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
    Volume38
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009

    Keywords

    • Inverse scope reading
    • Modular model
    • Scope processing
    • Surface scope reading

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'Scope processing in Chinese'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this