Syntactic and Prosodic Processing of Quantifier Ambiguity in Turkish

Cemre Ece Kırcalı, İpek Pınar Uzun, Özgür Aydın


There is a robust debate on different linguistic levels of quantifier ambiguity resolution. Many accounts of the quantifier ambiguity are extensively examined in Turkish by semantic-prosodic and syntactic-semantic levels in previous studies. In this study, we aimed to investigate the prosodic and syntactic processes of the universal quantifier (her (‘every’) and existential quantifier bir (‘a/an’)) by using an on-line picture matching experiment with 75 young adults and native speakers of Turkish. Our stimuli consisted of 120 sentences (30×4) for each of the conditions with order (herbir (‘every–a/an’) vs. birher ‘a/an–every’) × focus (subject position vs. object position), respectively. In each trial, participants were asked to listen to the auditory stimuli and to judge sentences they heard. Our findings showed that the focused existential quantifier bir (‘a/an’) assigned wider scope than the universal quantifier her (‘every’) for the judgment task rates. This finding suggested that participants preferred the collective reading both for the focused universal quantifier her (‘every’) and focused existential quantifier bir (‘a/an’). For reaction times (RTs), participants favored distributive reading since the reaction times were faster in distributive reading than collective reading. This study supported the previous claims that syntactic processing has an initial role in disambiguation between collective and distributive readings.


quantifier scope; focus; scope rigidity; interpretation; Turkish

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