The internal syntax of quantifiers

Start - End 
2015 - 2019 (completed)
Department of Linguistics
Research Focus 



The aim of this project entitled ‘The internal syntax of QPs’, is to look inside quantifiers (Qs) and to identify the building blocks they are composed of. At first sight, no internal structure can be discerned in Qs like some, many, often, few, seldom and rarely. However, Qs like few, seldom and rarely share some properties with sentential negation: both can trigger positive question tags, as well as inversion. For that reason, Klima (1964: 269-272) argues that a covert sentential negation incorporates into these negative scalar Qs (Horn 1989: 247, NSQs). The goal of this project is to investigate whether this claim can be supported from visible morphology. The 16-language sample studied in Keenan & Paperno (2012) suggests that NSQs overtly consist of a negative marker and another element. In Malagasy for instance vitsy ‘few’ contains the sentential negative marker ‘tsy’ (Hanitramalala & Paul 2012: 619). The current project will examine a typologically balanced 40-language sample (Haspelmath 1997) to see to what extent the internal structure of Qs indeed supports the idea that the distinction between Qs like few and Qs like many resides in their internal structure. In addition, the project will  contribute to a better understanding of the internal syntax of Qs in general.