When bare nouns scope wide. The case of Malagasy
Natural Language and Linguistic Theory
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Data from a wide range of languages appear to show that bare nouns take obligatory narrow scope. Research on bare nouns has therefore closely tied certain interpretative effects (low scope, number neutrality) to the special overt morphosyntax of bareness (Carlson 1977, inter alia). Thus there appears to be a tight connection between the syntax and the semantics of noun phrases. In this context, the goal of this article is two-fold. The first goal is to present data from Official Malagasy that call into question this correlation: bare nouns in the language can take variable scope. Thus the overt form of a nominal is not a reliable signal of its interpretation. Second, it is argued that bare nouns in Official Malagasy are in fact headed by a null determiner. Supporting data come from a related dialect, Antakarana, where bare nouns take obligatory narrow scope and there is no evidence for a null determiner.