Article choice in plural generics (2007)

Title Article choice in plural generics
Published in Lingua, Vol. 117, No. 9, p.1657-. ISSN 0024-3841.
Author Farkas, D.F.; Swart, Henriëtte de
Date 2007
Reference(s) genericity, article, plural, indefinite, optimality, typology
Language English
Type Article
Publisher Elsevier
Abstract We discuss two groups of languages where article use contrasts in generic plural sentences but is otherwise essentially similar. The languages in the first group (English and Dutch) use bare plurals in the expression of kind reference (‘Dinosaurs are extinct’) and in generic generalizations (‘Dogs are intelligent’). The languages in the second group (French, Italian, Hungarian) use definite plurals in both cases (‘Les dinosaures ont disparu’, ‘Les chiens sont intelligents’ in French). We account for this contrast in terms of a competition between definite and indefinite forms formalized in terms of two O(ptimality) T(heoretic) syntactic constraints. The two language groups are given a uniform semantics. The contrast emerges in the interaction between the semantics of generic plural sentences and the relative weight assigned to the two constraints. Evidence in favor of the analysis comes from the otherwise unexpected neutralization of the contrast in pseudo-generics and anaphoric generics.
Persistent Identifier URN:NBN:NL:UI:10-1874-24965
Metadata XML
Source Utrecht University

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