Processing profile for quantifiers in verb phrase ellipsis: Evidence for grammatical economy

Wesley Orth, Masaya Yoshida


Quantifier Raising leaves no overt marking to indicate movement has occurred, making the task of identifying when raising has occurred extremely difficult for the parser. Beyond this challenge, evidence from interpretation and judgement studies suggests that raising causes difficulty in processing. These two aspects taken together have led some to suggest that human sentence processor employs a strategy in which the construction of raised structures is avoided, commonly called processing scope economy. This contrasts to the traditional notion of grammatical scope economy, where Quantifier Raising is restricted in the grammar. In this paper we discuss the properties of these two theories. We conclude that the two approaches make different predictions about when raising should occur online, with processing scope economy predicting that the parser avoids raising whenever possible and grammatical scope economy predicting that the parser raises regularly and sometimes produces ungrammatical structures in the process. We then present an experiment which examines complex scope structures in verb phrase ellipsis to observe when penalties related to Quantifier Raising are observed online. We find that penalties appear in configurations where Quantifier Raising would be ungrammatical under grammatical scope economy, suggesting the parser attempts Quantifier Raising in these configurations. This evidence indicates that the parser’s behavior matches the predictions of grammatical scope economy rather than those of processing scope economy.


psycholinguistics; scope; quantifier raising; ellipsis; maze task

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2022 Wesley Orth, Masaya Yoshida

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Donate to the Open-Access Fund of the LSA

Linguistic Society of America

Advancing the Scientific Study of Language since 1924

ISSN (online): 2473-8689

This publication is made available for free to readers and with no charge to authors thanks in part to your continuing LSA membership and your donations to the open access fund.