The Syntax-Semantics reading group and MULL-lab will be meeting on Wednesday, November 29th at 4pm in Rm. 117 of the McGill Linguistics department, with a Zoom room open for those unable to join in person.

This week, Jonny will present ongoing work addressing whether relative clauses are scope islands for universal quantifiers.


A scope island is a syntactic context that traps a scope taker, like a universal quantifier, inside of it. Relative clauses are standardly assumed to be scope islands. Barker (2022) presents several naturally occurring counterexamples to this claim, like (1) below, and argues that relative clauses should not be considered scope islands.  

  1. John included the name of the supervisor that each volunteer reported to.

The sentence in (1) can receive an interpretation where the embedded universal quantifier each seemingly takes scope outside the relative clause: under this interpretation, the sentence doesn’t involve a single supervisor, but rather, the supervisor can vary by volunteer. This variation suggests that the universal quantifier is taking scope outside the relative clause and above the definite determiner heading it. In this presentation, I explore whether such interpretations are due to the universal undergoing a non-local scope shifting mechanism, like quantifier raising (QR), or some other mechanism which derives the same effect of QR.

Please register in advance HERE to receive the Zoom link. You can also share this link with others who may want to join.