Restrictions on complement anaphora

Viola Schmitt, Edgar Onea, Friederike Buch


This paper discusses the semantic status and the restrictions on complement anaphora, i.e. pronouns that are anaphorically related to quantifiers and seem to refer to the `complement set' of the latter -- the set of those individuals that are in the restrictor but not in the nuclear scope of the quantifier. Our main empirical point, motivated by data from German, is that  contrary to the claims in  the literature, true complement set reference is not exclusively determined by the logical properties of the quantifier but also by its the syntactic context. Based on this observation, we argue that plural quantifiers provide anaphoric antecendents by a particular inference mechanism, which is sensitive to syntactic information: We submit that speakers employ verifying strategies for sentences with plural quantifiers where a  `test' discourse referent is inserted in the `syntactic slot' the plural quantifier originally occurs in. If a discourse referent, when inserted in this slot, yields truth-conditions for the resulting sentence that are equivalent to those of the original sentence, it can be used as an antecendent for anaphora.

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Copyright (c) 2017 Viola Schmitt, Edgar Onea, Friederike Buch