Genericity: Interpretation and Uses

May 11-12-13

Call for Papers


Since the publication of the collective work 'The Generic Book' (Carlson & Pelletier (ed.), 1995), research on genericity has developed in various directions. The principal merit of 'The Generic Book' was to establish a unified terminology, which paved the way for very detailed and specific studies, whose results are intended to be cumulative.


Since then, much of the research has focused on syntactic, semantic and pragmatic issues and important advances have been made in each of these fields and at their interfaces. The goal of the conference is to bring together theoreticians of different horizons articulating linguistic issues (syntax and semantics) with logical (e.g. concerning the choice of models) and philosophical ones. In particular, the conference aims to:


(i) Bringing together works on different languages, reconsidering the ontological questions linked to genericity. Should one postulate species in addition to particular individuals? Are species primitive entities or constructions due to certain operations? What differences are there between a species and a set of individuals? Between a species and a set of properties? Should one go for a rich ontology with species and/or properties, or for a poor ontology incorporating new operations?


(ii) Clarifying the relation between generic quantification and modality.


(iii) Re-evaluating the relevance of the distinction between 'GEN' and 'HAB'. Two domains of quantification, individuals and events, are typically identified as the domains on which these quantifiers would operate. The conference welcome work confronting recent linguistic advances on the types of predicates giving rise to generic interpretations (the distinction between stage-level and individual-level predicates being too limited) and philosophical work on dispositions, essential and accidental properties, …. In particular it welcomes paper examining (a) whether this distinction is sufficient, and (b) what empirical domains it applies to.


(iv) Articulating questions of syntax and semantics with a pragmatic perspective. In many languages, no specific linguistic form is dedicated to expressing genericity. The conference will gather work trying to identify under what conditions a sentence is construed generically articulating research around the structure of information, discourse, and prosody and reconsidering the distinction between analytic and synthetic judgments, examining under which conditions genericity might be independent of inductive inferences.


(v) Articulating the question of exceptions, in particular at the interface of semantics and pragmatics (addressing the relation between genericity and free choiceness, genericity and vagueness and contextual interpretation more generally).


The conference welcomes papers on different languages clearly articulating empirical and formal issues, including but not limited to the following topics:



ILP SLP distinction

Kind terms

Generic Determiners

Generic Quantification


Frequency Adverbs

GEN / HAB distinction


Tense and Aspect in generic sentences

Free choiceness and genericity

Genericity and modality


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