Intonational effects on english scopally-ambiguous sentences

Mien Jen Wu, Tania Ionin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the effect of intonation contour on two types of scopally-ambiguous constructions in English: Configurations with a universal quantifier in subject position and sentential negation (e.g., Every horse didn't jump) and configurations with quantifiers in both subject and object positions (e.g., A girl saw every boy). This was investigated via an auditory acceptability judgment task, in which native English speakers rated the acceptability of auditorily presented sentences in contexts matching surface-scope vs. inverse-scope readings. The results provide evidence that fall-rise intonation facilitates the inverse-scope readings of English quantifier-negation configurations (supporting findings from prior literature), but not those of double-quantifier configurations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-36
Number of pages24
JournalIlha do Desterro
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • English
  • Intonation
  • Quantifier Scope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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