SEMANTICS: the interpretation of a noun phrase as referring to a kind, to all members of a kind, or to any typical representative. EXAMPLE: the italicized NPs in (i) are interpreted generically.
(i) a The cat is a domestic animal b Cats are intelligent c A cat loves to sleepIn the semantic literature, generic noun phrases are analyzed as names or definite descriptions of kinds or as a special kind of generic quantification over the members of a kind. Sentences with a generic interpretation express a generalization or a habit, a state which cannot be said to be true on one particular moment. Examples are (ii)a and b.
(ii) a The sun rises in the East b John usually eats pork for breakfastIn many languages, generic sentences are in the simple present tense or the imperfective aspect.
|Carlson, G. (1977)