Particular Quantifiers


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Titel Particular Quantifiers
Looptijd 06 / 2005 - 05 / 2008
Status Afgesloten
Onderzoeknummer OND1308975
Leverancier gegevens Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)

Samenvatting (EN)

In modern formal linguistics, a quantifier is an expression whichcan be understood to correspond to a set of properties. Such variousphrases as, "at most twelve students" , "few mammals" and"several of the thirty remaining competitors" are quantifiers, sincethe groups they describe may be characterised by the properties that"at most twelve students" , "few mammals , etc. have. Quite a fewquantifiers seem to point out the same set of properties. Forinstance, at first glance, there is no difference between "at mosttwelve students" , "less than thirteen students" and "fewer thanthirteen students" . In everyday language use, we seem unaware of thevariation in quantifiers to our disposal. Effortlessly, we choose theappropriate quantifier in the appropriate context. Psycholinguisticresearch indicates that such choices are not arbitrary, but followfine-grained classifications of quantifier expressions. Consequently,a semantic characterisation of quantifiers in terms of sets ofproperties alone cannot offer an explanation of how the great varietyof quantifier expressions is used by speakers. This project intendsto bridge the gap between semantics and pragmatics by offering afine-grained semantics of quantifiers. It will be claimed thatdifferent expressions involve different basic semantic structures andthat these are related to the decomposition of quantifiers intomeaningful parts. For instance, a quantifier like "up to twelvestudents" , which contains the preposition "up to" will becharacterised using the spatial semantics of "up to" . Similarly,"at most twelve students" is claimed to involve the semantics of thesuperlative comparison "at least" . The ultimate goal of the projectwill be to the reveal how different semantic structures interact withmodules that play a role in language use.

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Projectleider Dr. R.W.F. Nouwen


D36000 Taal- en literatuurwetenschappen

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