Conceptual and linguistic distinctions between singular and plural generics

Abstract

Prasada and Dillingham (2006, 2009) and Leslie (2007, 2008) hypothesize that 'bare plural' generics (e.g. "tigers are striped") are used to express a range of conceptually different types of generalizations. We investigate whether different syntactic forms of generics are restricted to expressing only some of these types of generalizations, and if so, which ones. In doing so, we also test the relationship between Prasada and Dillingham's categories of generalizations on the one hand, and Leslie's on the other. The findings have significant consequences for our understanding of the conceptual mechanisms that underlie generics and our ability to think generally about kinds.


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