Materials and Methods

The pictures can be downloaded in a compressed file by clicking here. There are currently more than 70 pictures, depicting different kinds of people, animals, plants, artifacts, and situations. They are in a single folder, ordered sequentially. This is meant to make it easier to present them as a slide show on a computer, and the numbers make it easier to refer to them in field notes. Some examples appear to the right.

The pictures are meant to test primarily for distributive versus non-distributive readings, involving universal quantifiers (all, each, every) interacting with indefinites or existential quantifiers. For instance, in the three pictures to the right, sharks are attacking people: four sharks attack a single person; each of four sharks attacks a different person; and a single shark attacks three people. The idea is to test, first, whether a sentence like Every shark is attacking someone can be distributive, with the subject quantifier distributing over the object. In English, that sentence can truthfully describe both the top picture and the middle picture. Because it can describe the middle picture, we know that quantifiers like every shark can distribute over (take scope over) an indefinite. Once it has been established whether a given quantifier can distribute, then the grammatical roles can be reversed: A shark is attacking every person. Most speakers of English judge this to be true of both the middle picture and the bottom picture, but some judge it to be true only of the bottom one. For those speakers, a universal quantifier as object cannot take scope over and distribute over an indefinite in subject position.

Note that the pictures can be described in many different ways, depending on what the researcher wants to investigate. Actives versus passives can be tested, for instance, with the exact same pictures (Someone is being attacked by every shark, true only of the top picture). Different quantifiers and quantificational expressions can be used: every person versus all (the) people, each person, and every person, a person versus everyone, someone. Here are some contrasts that are meant to be tested:


Scope of Negation

Some of the pictures were created to tell stories. There are three sequences of these: pictures 041 through 044 ("Catches None"); 045 through 050 ("Catches All"); and 045 through 048 plus 051 ("Catches Some"). In "Catches None," a man goes fishing but catches nothing; in "Catches All," he catches all the fish and then leaves; in "Catches Some," he catches most but not all of the fish, and then leaves.

Here are the basic scripts for the stories:

Catches None:

  1. (041) Here's a man who goes fishing. First he tries casting his line on one side.
  2. (042) He doesn't catch anything, so he tries the other side.
  3. (043) He still hasn't caught anything, so he sits down to fish.
  4. (044) Finally he leaves, empty-handed.

Catches All:

  1. (045) Here's a man who goes fishing.
  2. (046) He catches one fish and puts it in his barrel.
  3. (047) He catches a second fish and puts it in his barrel.
  4. (048) He catches a third fish and puts it in his barrel.
  5. (049) He catches the fourth fish and puts it in his barrel.
  6. (050) Then he goes home with his fish.

Catches Some (first four as above):

  1. (045) Here's a man who goes fishing.
  2. (046) He catches one fish and puts it in his barrel.
  3. (047) He catches a second fish and puts it in his barrel.
  4. (048) He catches a third fish and puts it in his barrel.
  5. (051) He goes home, leaving one fish uncaught.

These stories are meant to test whether an indefinite can take scope outside negation or not. The test sentence would be The man didn't catch a fish. If that is only true of "Catches None," then the indefinite cannot take scope over negation. If it is also true of "Catches Some," then the indefinite can take scope over negation ("there is a fish such that the man did not catch it"). This could be useful if a language has differential object marking, or some way of marking specificity. (This story was taken from Irene Krämer, 1998, "Children's Interpretations of Indefinite Object Noun Phrases: Evidence from the Scope of Negation." In R. van Bezooijen and R. Kager, Linguistics in the Netherlands, Amsterdam: John Benjamins.)

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