Scope Oddity investigates three cases where scope interactions between different kinds of operators are more restricted than previously thought. These cases are: 1) split scope readings with negative indefinites, 2) interactions between modified numerals and modals, and 3) run-of-the-mill doubly quantified sentences with two nominal quantifiers. In these domains, accounts of the phenomena at hand are built on top of the assumption that surface scope configurations and inverse scope configurations are both available. Using data from the literature as well as novel and largely crosslinguistic data, this book illustrates that scope interactions in these areas are actually far more infrequent than thus far assumed.
Scope Oddity comes to the rescue by offering an alternative to these accounts that does not rest on any non-existent scope configurations. The theory presented in this dissertation unifies the phenomena of split scope and scope interactions between modified numerals and modals. It does so by proposing that what underlies the characteristics of both phenomena is focus-sensitivity. Across languages, only the focus-sensitive expressions among negative indefinites and numeral modifiers display the kind of behaviour that results in both split scope readings and certain types of readings we observe when modified numerals occur with modals. Using focus semantics and inquisitive semantics, the account derives both the right semantics and the right pragmatic inferences of the relevant expressions.
This work is of interest to semanticists, pragmaticists, and syntacticians alike, as well as to anyone who enjoys example sentences with cats.