Genericity as a Unitary Psychological Phenomenon: An Argument from Linguistic Diversity

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Abstract

So-called ‘generics’ are members of a diverse class of constructions that express generalisations that do not directly involve any precise cardinality of individuals, but rather the kinds or ‘typical’ or ‘normal’ members of the kinds contributed by arguments of the predicate. The paper argues that genericity as a unitary phenomenon of human thought has a psychological, rather than linguistic, basis. This claim is argued for by way of a survey of the linguistic diversity of the forms of genericity, and the presentation of a psychological model from recent experimental work done by Prasada and Dillingham that promises to confer unity on the genericity phenomena while explaining how the linguistic diversity relates to a single cognitive representation of a form of generality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-394
Number of pages26
JournalRatio
Volume28
Issue number4
Early online date9 Oct 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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