UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 8 (1996)

On generics



In this paper I argue against previous approaches to the semantics of generics which involved the notions of prototype, stereotype and relevant quantification. I assume that the logical form of generics includes a generic operator which, as Heim (1992) has suggested, can be construed as the modal operator of necessity. After demonstrating that the presence of the generic operator in a semantic representation, as well as its domain of quantification, are pragmatically supplied, I go on to show how the various interpretations generics may receive can be successfully accounted for within a relevance-theoretic framework.

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