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Academic Paper

Title: Scope Processing in Chinese
Author: Peng Zhou
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Macquarie University
Author: Liqun Gao
Institution: Beijing Language and Culture University
Linguistic Field: Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin
Abstract: The standard view in linguistics 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.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. Vol. 38: 11-24.

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