Genericity in Natural Language

E. Graham Katz and Roberto Zamparelli

  • Area: LaLo
  • Level: I
  • Week: 2
  • Time: 17:00 – 18:30
  • Room: C2.06


The phenomenon of genericity is pervasive in natural language, and it has been addressed by a huge body of literature in natural language semantics, starting from the seminal work of (Lawler, 1973) and (Carlson, 1977) and continuing to the present.
The goal of the course proposed here is to offer a historical review of the main approaches to nominal and sentential genericity, but also cover some recent developments, in particular the relation between kinds and psychological concepts, the more recent implementations of genericity within in the syntax/semantics interface, and the possibility to build theoretical, probability-based analysis of this phenomenon, but also computational distributional models of genericity, with the aim of accounting for human intuitions about the truth or falsity of these expressions.


Additional References

  • Carlson, G. (1977). Reference to Kinds in English. PhD thesis, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • Lawler, J. (1973). Studies in English Generics. University of Michigan Papers in Linguistics,

Notes (updates as the course progresses)