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I read that Fiengo & May (1994: 115-117) points out that through the analysis of strict and sloppy readings in elliptical environments, it has shed light not only on more general notions of syntactic identity (reconstruction), but also on the representation of coreference, bound variable, and E-type anaphora. According to Fiengo & May, example (40) below has four potential read-ings:

(40) Most of the plumbers love their mothers, and most of the carpenters do, too.

a. [Most of [the plumbers]1]2 love [their]2 mothers, and [most of [the carpenters]3]4 love [their]4 mothers

b. [Most of [the plumbers]1]2 love [their]2 mothers, and [most of [the carpenters]3]4 love [their]2 mothers

c. [Most of [the plumbers]1]2 love [their]1 mothers, and [most of [the carpenters]3]4 love [their]3 mothers

d. [Most of [the plumbers]1]2 love [their]1 mothers, and [most of [the carpenters]3]4 love [their]1 mothers

My question is whether or not these four different readings are possible. Which one do you prefer and why? I am totally confused and I wonder if these really exist.

If we change the quantifier most to all, I am assuming that there would be just two possible readings.

For the sentence

All of the plumbers love their mothers, and All of the carpenters do, too.

One reading is

[All the plumbers]1 love [their]1 mothers and [all the carpenters]2 love [their]2 mothers

The other reading is

[All the plumbers]1 love [their]1 mothers and [all the carpenters]2 love [their]1 mothers

I am not sure about these two readings. Could someone help me clarify if I am wrong. Thanks so much!

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    I don’t have Fiengo & May (1994), but I don’t see why you shouldn’t add [Most of [the plumbers]1]2 love [their]3 mothers for the first part of the sentence, or indeed [most of [the carpenters]4]5 for the second. If we can interpret ‘their mothers’ as ‘(all) the plumbers’ mothers’ when the subject is ‘most of the plumbers’ (which to me is stretching it), I don’t see a reason we shouldn’t be able to interpret ‘do too’ as referring to ‘love (all) the carpenters’ mothers’. Nov 16, 2022 at 16:12
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I just edit it. The original text is directly copied from Fiengo & May (1994) book. He gives the sentence four possible readings which is surprising to me. But what if we change to "all the plumbers" and "all the carpenters", we would have four readings left instead. Am I right?
    – Yili Xia
    Nov 17, 2022 at 2:42
  • The most intuitive interpretation is that each worker loves their respective mother (or mothers), in that case [their] does not refer to [all the plumbers], so I think you would still count at least 4 readings, maybe more.
    – J-mster
    Nov 17, 2022 at 11:10
  • @J-mster Thanks! I tend to believe that some interpretations are not very nautural and intuitive to people's minds when it comes to the reference of pronouns.
    – Yili Xia
    Nov 17, 2022 at 14:10

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