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If we have a sentential negation with the quantifier every, that would cause an ambiguity. is there any resolution to avoid that scope ambiguity?

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    You seem to be under the impression that scope ambiguities must always be resolvable. This is not true. Sometimes they can be resolved, but often there is simply not enough information in the signal -- or in contextual knowledge -- to avoid having more than one meaning. Especially if the sentence is written; virtually all English sentences are multiply ambiguous in writing, since orthography doesn't represent intonation and sentence stress, which often disambiguate in speech.
    – jlawler
    Apr 7 '16 at 2:47
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"every" and "not" are sentence modifiers. That is, each is added to an S to make another larger S. The S that is created is the scope of the modifier. For the example "Every kid did not eat pizza", there are two possible structures:

  1. "not" modifies "kid did eat pizza", giving "(not(kid did eat pizza))", which is the scope of "not", then this S is modified by "every", giving "(every(not(kid did eat pizza)))", which is the scope of "every". As you can see, "not" is in the scope of "every".
  2. "every" modifies "kid did eat pizza", giving "(every(kid did eat pizza))", which is the scope of "every", then this S is modified by "not", giving "(not(every(kid did eat pizza))", which is the scope of "not". As you can see, "every" is in the scope of "not".

As to whether both interpretations are possible and there is an actual ambiguity, that will depend on dialect. English speakers differ.

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  • so what is the resolution for this ambiguity in any dialect
    – M.S
    Apr 6 '16 at 22:36
  • Why should there be a resolution? Some things are just ambiguous. (Sometimes, intonation may disambiguate.)
    – Greg Lee
    Apr 6 '16 at 22:47
  • that means I can use the intonation as a resolution?
    – M.S
    Apr 6 '16 at 23:10
  • No, it doesn't mean that. I don't know what you're asking. Do you want a different sentence that expresses only one of the two interpretations? "Not every kid ate pizza" has "every" unambiguously in the scope of "not".
    – Greg Lee
    Apr 6 '16 at 23:33
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    Then you're out of luck, since it has two interpretations (potentially, depending on dialect).
    – Greg Lee
    Apr 7 '16 at 1:01

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