Floating quantifiers, discussion in UD

the examples are:

  1. they all go out.
  2. they all had gone.
  3. John all had gone.
  4. John all has eaten the candies.

The discussion started with my reading that 1 and 2 are ambiguous to me. Sentences 3 and 4 are grammatical or not? ERG accepted both. Comments are welcome.

BTW, the sentence 5 is not parsed by ERG, but it should, right? The sentence 6 is correctly parsed.

  1. Then, I think that indicates a problem with or limitation of the grammar.
  2. Then, I think that indicates a problem or limitation of the grammar.

Sentences 3 and 4 and semantically implausible, but you can have a floating quantifier with a grammatically singular subject:

  • The family has all left

(Personally, I prefer “the family have all left”, but singular/plural verb agreement with collective nouns is known to vary across varieties of English.)

If “John” is a name for a group of people, 3 and 4 become much more reasonable.

Hi @guyemerson, So (3) and (4) are ERG mistakes? In the two cases, the analysis makes all adverb, not a quantifier.

Floating quantifiers are treated as adverbs in the ERG. The analyses for sentences 3 and 4 are not mistakes, just semantically weird.

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to be clear, syntactically they are adverbs (or at least, much more like adverbs than determiners). Semantically, there have been analyses which make them VP modifiers - but I haven’t read the literature since Craige Roberts thesis (which is a long time ago). floated ‘each’ (at least) seems to be more about distributivity rather than being a true quantifier. historically, ‘every’ is apparently always found as a modifier of ‘each’, seemingly having the effect of adding universality to the distributivity (I haven’t had time to check this properly).


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