Quantifier polarity and referential focus during reading

Paterson, K. B., Sanford, A. J., Moxey, L. M. and Dawydiak, E. (1998) Quantifier polarity and referential focus during reading. Journal of Memory and Language, 39(2), pp. 290-306. (doi: 10.1006/jmla.1998.2561)

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We report the results of two eye-tracking experiments that examine how readers process sentences containing anaphoric pronouns when the referent is provided by a preceding quantified statement. Previous studies (Moxey & Sanford, 1987; Sanford, Moxey, & Paterson, 1996) have shown that positive and negative quantifiers (e.g., a few and few, respectively) cause subjects to focus on different aspects of the described situation and have direct consequences for the interpretation of subsequent anaphoric pronouns. In the present studies, we consider whether positive and negative quantifiers make different sets available as the referents of subsequent anaphora or if readers must infer the nature of these sets on encountering the anaphor. The results suggest that positives do make sets available as referents, whereas in the case of negatives, readers must infer the referent set. The findings are consistent with linguistic arguments concerning the differences between positive and negative quantifiers and add to our understanding of complex plural anaphora.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Moxey, Dr Linda and Dawydiak, Dr Eugene and Sanford, Professor Anthony
Authors: Paterson, K. B., Sanford, A. J., Moxey, L. M., and Dawydiak, E.
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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