Talking about quantities in space: Vague quantifiers, context and similarity

K.R. Coventry, A. Cangelosi, S.E. Newstead, D. Bugmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we examine how vague quantifiers, such as few, several, lots of, map onto non-linguistic number systems. In particular our focus is to examine how judgements about vague quantifiers are affected by the presence of objects in visual scenes other than those being referred to. An experiment is presented that manipulated the number of objects in a visual scene (men playing golf; the ‘focus’ objects) together with the number of other objects in those scenes and their similarity — in terms of form (women or crocodiles) and function (playing golf, not playing golf) — to the focus objects. We show that the number of other objects in a scene impacts upon quantifiers judgements even when those objects are in a different category to the focus objects. We discuss the results in terms of the mapping between the large approximate number (estimation) system and language.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-241
Number of pages21
JournalLanguage and Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Quantifiers
  • approximate number system
  • visual attention
  • context

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