Ambiguity resolution and information structure

M. Teresa Espinal 1  and Xavier Villalba 1
  • 1 Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


In this paper we focus on the topic of ambiguity resolution in and beyond grammar. We deal with two questions: where is ambiguity resolved (in particular, the ambiguity of expressions conveying specific forms of information packaging and common ground management), and what is the design of grammar that emerges from the study of ambiguity problems. After a review of the standard analysis of ambiguity within the Principles and Parameters model, in which ambiguous syntactic objects require different structures at syntax, we will focus on various phenomena that will support a model of grammar in which syntactic structures are mapped into information structures, which will feed both logical form and PF interfaces. In particular, we will show that scope relations between numeral quantifiers in Catalan and the interpretation of preverbal bare nominals in Brazilian Portuguese are sensitive to information structures that need to be translated into representations of meaning which are different from classical LFs in generative grammar. Only PFs are ambiguous.

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The Linguistic Review publishes high-quality papers in syntax, semantics, phonology and morphology within a framework of Generative Grammar and related disciplines, as well as critical discussions of theoretical linguistics as a branch of cognitive psychology. The journal welcomes reviews of important new monographs in these areas, dissertation abstracts and letters to the editor.