The Quantifier Questionnaire

  • Edward L. Keenan
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 97)


The questionnaire, which constitutes this chapter, illustrates a semantically based classification of quantificational expressions cross classified according as the expressions are adverbial in character (A-quantifiers) or nominal/determiner-like (D-quantifiers). Examples are drawn mostly from English, except where other languages have structure types not readily mimicked in English, such as various types of A-quantifiers and Quantifier Float.

We take the basic semantic type of quantifiers to be a relation between properties. For example, no in No king shaves himself denotes a relation between the property of being a king and the property of shaving oneself. D-quantifiers and A-quantifiers differ with regard to what the relevant properties are properties of. D-quantifiers relate properties of entities (possibly abstract), A-quantifiers relate properties of events or “times”. It remains true (Gil 1993, Nominal and verbal quantification. Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung, 46(4):275–317, Evans 1995), that A-quantifiers are structurally more diverse and semantically less well understood than D-quantifiers. And it happens often that syntactically non-isomorphic expressions have the same quantificational force. Even within the narrow domain of D-quantifiers a given quantificational expression may look like an English Determiner in one language and like an adjective in another. Compared to earlier typologically oriented treatments of quantifiers (Bach E, Jelinek E, Kratzer A, Partee BH (eds), Quantification in natural languages, vols 1 and 2. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1995; Haspelmath M, Dryer MS, Gil D, Comrie B (eds), The world atlas of language structures (WALS). Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005; Matthewson et al. 2008) our questionnaire focuses proportionately more on ways of building syntactically complex quantificational expressions. On semantic grounds we distinguish three fundamental classes of quantifiers: intersective (existential), co-intersective (universal) and proportionality quantifiers. In addition for D-quantifiers we discuss definite quantifiers and partitive ones. It is significant that D- and A-quantifiers all exhibit members of the first three classes, with A-quantifiers being, perhaps, slightly richer in variety. And within the three basic classes interesting sub-classes are distinguished as cardinal, co-cardinal, value judgment quantifiers and interrogative quantifiers.


A-quantifiers Quantifier float D-quantifiers Non-isomorphic Semantic Intersective (existential) Co-intersective (universal) Proportionality quantifiers Definite quantifiers Partitive quantifiers Cardinal Co-Cardinal 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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