Distributivity and modality: where "each" may go, "every" can't follow

Michaël Gagnon, Alexis Wellwood

Von Fintel and Iatridou (2003) observed a striking pattern of scopal non-interaction between phrases headed by strong quantifiers like every and epistemically interpreted modal auxiliaries. Tancredi (2007) and Huitink (2008) observed that von Fintel and Iatridou’s proposed constraint, the Epistemic Containment Principle (ECP), does not apply uniformly: it does not apply to strong quantifiers headed by each. We consider the ECP effect in light of the differential behavior of each and every in the environment of wh-, negative, and generic operators as described by Beghelli and Stowell (1997). Assuming that epistemic and root modals merge at two different syntactic heights (e.g. Cinque 1999) and that modals may act as unselective binders (Heim 1982), we extend Beghelli and Stowell’s topological approach to quantifier scope interactions in order to formulate a novel syntactic account of the ECP.