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‘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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Experimental Semantics and Pragmatics
EditorsChris Cummins, Napoleon Katsos
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191834059
ISBN (Print)9780198791768
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2019
Externally publishedYes

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