In an attempt to address the theoretical gap between linguistics and philosophy, a group of semanticists, calling itself the Generic Group, has worked to develop a common view of genericity. Their research has resulted in this book, which consists of a substantive introduction and eleven original articles on important aspects of the interpretation of generic expressions. The introduction provides a clear overview of the issues and synthesizes the major analytical approaches to them. Taken together, the papers that follow reflect the (...) current state of the art in the semantics of generics, and afford insight into various generic phenomena. (shrink)
It is argued that the English bare plural (an NP with plural head that lacks a determiner), in spite of its apparently diverse possibilities of interpretation, is optimally represented in the grammar as a unified phenomenon. The chief distinction to be dealt with is that between the generic use of the bare plural (as in Dogs bark) and its existential or indefinite plural use (as in He threw oranges at Alice). The difference between these uses is not to be accounted (...) for by an ambiguity in the NP itself, but rather by explicating how the context of the sentence acts on the bare plural to give rise to this distinction. A brief analysis is sketched in which bare plurals are treated in all instances as proper names of kinds of things. A subsidiary argument is that the null determiner is not to be regarded as the plural of the indefinite article a. (shrink)
Whether or not the particular view of generic sentences articulated above is correct, it is quite clear that the study of generic terms and the truth-conditions of generic sentences touches on the representation of other parts of the grammar, as well as on how the world around us is reflected in language. I would hope that the problems mentioned above will highlight the relevance of semantic analysis to other apparently distinct questions, and focus attention on the relevance of linguistic problems (...) to other already established areas of inquiry. (shrink)
Beginning with analyses of English generic sentences and English plural indefinite noun phrases (e.g.dogs), we proceed to apply mechanisms there motivated to a characterization of atemporalwhen, a sense ofwhen which does not appear to involve time. Dealt with are such examples as Dogs are intelligent when they have blue eyes, and their relationships to examples like Dogs that have blue eyes are intelligent. The proposed treatment of atemporalwhen helps motivate the existence of a generic verb phrase operator in English, as (...) well as the treatment of indefinite plural noun phrases as disguised definite descriptions. (shrink)
This volume recasts the influential work of Barbara H. Partee in light of new studies surrounding the semantics of quantification and reference in natural language. The papers examine cutting-edge issues in formal semantics and pragmatics. With topics ranging from the fundamental issues of compositionality and information structure to the analysis of tense and aspect, Reference and Quantification is both an excellent discussion of Partee's work and a thorough overview of developments in current semantics research.
This paper examines a type of discourse structure we here call ‘generic passages’. We argue that generic passages should be analyzed as sequences of generic sentences, each sentence containing its own GEN operator (Krifka et al. 1995). The GEN operators produce tripartite matrix/restrictor structures; the main discourse connection among the sentences is that the restrictor produced by each sentence in the sequence has as its contents the information in the matrix produced by the previous sentence in the discourse. We also (...) argue that an identity of reference times is required for this process to occur. In the end generic passages are a natural product of the interaction of generic operators in sentences with independently- established principles structuring ordinary extensional narrative. (shrink)