Denials as controllers of negative quantifier focus

Moxey, L. M., Sanford, A. J. and Dawydiak, E. J. (2001) Denials as controllers of negative quantifier focus. Journal of Memory and Language, 44(3), pp. 427-442. (doi: 10.1006/jmla.2000.2736)

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Statements quantified by negative and positive quantifiers can put attentional focus on different subsets of the logical possibilities that the quantifiers allow semantically. This is manifested in differences in the patterns of reference which are allowed by positive and negative quantifiers (Moxey & Sanford, 1987). Here we contrast two different proposed mechanisms for the effect. In the semantic account of Kibble (1997), the focus pattern of the negative quantifiers is derivable from a postulated underlying semantics, and it takes downward monotonicity in proportional quantifiers as its basis. In the inference account which we postulate, it is denial, a property strongly associated with negativity, which is presumed to be the root of the focus patterns. In Experiment 1 we contrast sentence production patterns associated with monotone decreasing quantifiers that form denials with those that form affirmations, in a free continuation task. In Experiment 2, we use a continuation task in which participants are required to use an initial pronoun in their productions. In both cases, the denial/affirmation contrast is shown to be the main determinant of focus patterns. Experiment 3 provides a test of an explanation postulated for a surprise focus effect found for one of the monotone increasing set. The effects are taken to show the inadequacy of the semantic account, and they generally support the inference account.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Moxey, Dr Linda and Dawydiak, Dr Eugene and Sanford, Professor Anthony
Authors: Moxey, L. M., Sanford, A. J., and Dawydiak, E. J.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Journal of Memory and Language
ISSN (Online):1096-0821

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