Language and Number Sense: ANS Representations for 'Most'


Quantificational expressions ('every', 'most', etc.) afford speakers the means to convey information about the quantity of entities pertinent to a conversation. Their formal linguistic properties have been studied in great detail (Barwise & Cooper 1981, etc.). However, little is known about how they are mapped onto cognitive representations of quantity—in particular, to what extent that mapping is determined by their linguistic properties. We present evidence from a series of experiments concerning the quantifier 'most' and argue that 1) it is, as a default, mapped onto representations of the Approximate Number System (ANS) rather than the precise numbers (cf. Lidz et al. 2011); and 2) the mapping reveals cognitive correlates of the complex internal structure of 'most', which encompasses a superlative operator as well as a gradable predicate MANY expressing measure function of quantity (Hackl 2009. Kotek et al. 2011).

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