We present two off-line experiments on the interpretation of doubly quantified sentences with existential subject and universal object in German and English, which have been reported to allow for inverse readings only in English. We show for this specific syntactic configuration that there is no categorical cross-linguistic difference, but only a gradual one, with English more readily allowing for inverse scope than German. This supports a cross-linguistically unified analysis of inverse scope on which gradual differences between languages follow from language-specific properties and exposure effects. The results moreover suggest that relative clauses with indefinite head NPs allow for inverse readings, thereby challenging their status as scope islands (May 1977, Huang 1995), while being in line with introspective claims in semantic accounts (Barker 2012, 2019). Finally, our results suggest a high between-speaker variability and a strong impact of pragmatics.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this content.