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date: 24 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

‘Birds fly’, ‘The fox is a sly animal’, and ‘A cat lands on its feet’ are all generic generalizations that allow speakers to talk about kinds of entities rather than individuals and to refer to their characteristic or essential properties. Their complex yet fundamental nature has attracted the interest of linguists and philosophers of language since the 1970s while they have also recently become the focus of concentrated interest by cognitive and developmental psychologists. The two main approaches to genericity in two different fields, formal semantics and cognitive psychology, are discussed. The review of the experimental research on the topic reveals that while the experimental study of generics is still in its early stages, interdisciplinary work that integrates the tools and perspectives of both strands of investigation can substantially advance our understanding of the topic.

Keywords: generalization, genericity, kind, Noun Phrases (NP), quantification

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