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Taking ScopeThe Natural Semantics of Quantifiers$
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Mark Steedman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262017077

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262017077.001.0001

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(p.1) Chapter 1 Prologue
Taking Scope

Mark Steedman

The MIT Press

Computational linguists and psycholinguists show little interest in the formal semantics of quantification, even though quantifiers and other scoping elements play an important role in human and computational natural language processing. Quantifiers, along with negation and other categories such as modality, tense, and aspect, matter because they support inference and entailment. To understand the relevance of quantifier-scope, it is necessary to look at how rare events reveal the nature of the system and where quantifers might actually have practical applications. Questions provide few opportunities to deploy quantifiers, other than simple definites and indefinites. Some quantifiers convey subtle implicatures about the completeness or otherwise of the speaker’s knowledge.

Keywords:   semantics, quantification, quantifiers, natural language processing, quantifier-scope, questions, negation

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