Article published in:Bare Plurals, Indefinites, and Weak–Strong Distinction
Edited by Svetlana Vogeleer
[Belgian Journal of Linguistics 19] 2005
► pp. 93–120
The Non-Uniformity of Quantificational Variability Effects
A Comparison of Singular Indefinites, Bare Plurals and Plural Definites
In this article, we discuss three different kinds of quantificational variability effects, namely quantificational variability readings in adverbially quantified sentences with (a) singular indefinites, (b) bare plurals, and (c) non kind-denoting plural definites. We investigate the three different strategies that are needed to derive the different kinds of quantificational variability effects. It is argued that all cases have the same quantificational domain, i.e. they all involve quantification over eventualities. We also show that the availability of quantificational variability effects in sentences with singular indefinites and plural definites is restricted by a constraint that we call the tense agreement constraint. Interestingly, there is no such restriction for sentences with bare plurals. This difference is due to the fact that singular indefinites and plural definites interact with the denotations of Q-adverbs in another way than bare plurals: while the former can be interpreted directly in the restriction of a Q-adverb, the latter need to be type-shifted in order to be interpretable in this position. This ‘indirect interpretation’ of bare plurals is assumed to be responsible for their resistance to the tense agreement constraint. This in turn is the reason why they induce quantificational variability effects in a wider range of cases than their singular indefinite or plural definite counterparts.
Published online: 10 May 2006