Published on November 16, 2007
The Generic Article: The Generic Article Henriëtte de Swart Joint work with Donka Farkas Bare plurals: Carlson: Bare plurals: Carlson Carlson (’77): bare plurals refer to kinds. Dinosaurs are extinct Dogs are intelligent Children were playing in the street. Direct reference to kinds Generic generalization Existential reading Dutch: same paradigm: Dutch: same paradigm a. Dinosaurussen zijn uitgestorven. Dinosaurs are extinct. b. Honden zijn intelligent. Dogs are intelligent. c. Dieven hebben mijn laptop gestolen. Thieves stole my laptop. Indefinite singulars I: Indefinite singulars I a. #A dinosaur is extinct. b. A dog is intelligent. c. A child was playing in the street. Taxonomic reading only Generic generalization Existential reading Generics in DRT: Generics in DRT DRT analyses of generics focus on indefinites (singulars/plurals) A dog is intelligent Dogs are intelligent Farkas & Sugioka (1983), Diesing (1992), Krifka et al (1995): indefinites contribute variables that are bound by a generic operator (GEN). Definite singulars: Definite singulars Krfka et al. (1995), Chierchia (1998), Dayal (2004): definite singulars refer to atomic kinds. The computer was invented by X. The coca-cola bottle has a long neck. The dinosaur is long extinct. Cross-linguistic data I: Cross-linguistic data I Indefinite singulars in Romance behave in the same way: Un chien est intelligent. [French] A dog is intelligent Un perro es inteligente. [Spanish] Cross-linguistic data II: Cross-linguistic data II Definite singulars in Romance behave in the same way: Le dinosaure a disparu. [French] The dinosaur is extinct. El dinosaurio está extinguido. [Spanish] Cross-linguistic data III: Cross-linguistic data III Article choice in the case of plural generics is *not* the same in Romance as in English/Germanic. Generally: where English uses bare plurals, Romance uses definite plurals. Italian: Italian Longobardi (2001): no generic bare plural in Italian. a. *Elefanti di colore bianco sono estinti. Elephants of white color are extinct. *K b. *Ucelli di zone paludose sono intelligenti. Birds of marshlands are intelligent. *GG c. Elefanti di colore bianco hanno creato in passato grande curiosità. White-coloured elephants have raised great curiosity in the past. Definite plural generics: Definite plural generics Gli elefanti di colore bianco sono estinti. K The white-coloured elephants are extinct. Gli ucelli di zone paludose sono intelligenti. GG The birds from marshlands are intelligent. Rumanian: Rumanian a. Dinosaurii au dispărut. K def Dinosaur.Pl.Def have disappeared b. Cîinii sînt inteligenti. GG def Dogs.Pl.Def are intelligent c. Se joacă copii pe stradă. bare Refl. play child.Pl on street French: French a. Les dinosaures ont disparu. The dinosaurs are extinct K def b. Les chiens sont intelligents. The dogs are intelligent. GG def c. Des enfants jouent dans la rue. Indef_pl children play in the street. Spanish: Spanish Los dinosaurios se han extinguido Los perros son inteligentes Unos niños juegan en la calle Questions: Questions (i) Why is there variation in the use of definite/indefinite (bare) plurals between languages? (ii) Why is there *no* variation in the use of definite/indefinite singulars between languages? Episodic definites: Episodic definites Longobardi: Romance definites refer to kinds. But: Rom. definites also in episodic contexts. Copiii se joacă pe stradă. [Rumanian] Child.Pl.Def. Refl. play in street. Les enfants jouent dans la rue. [French] The children play in the street. Los niños juegan en la calle. Idem in English, Dutch: Idem in English, Dutch a. The children are playing in the street. b. De kinderen spelen op straat. The children play on street. No difference between Germanic and Romance definites in episodic contexts. expletive article: expletive article Vergnaud & Zubizaretta (1992): definite article in Romance generics is expletive. Krifka et al. (1995): ‘theme marker’ Why contrast with episodic contexts? Stipulate: expletive definite in generics ‘weird’ feature of Romance. Not only Romance..: Not only Romance.. Same contrast in Greek (Longobardi): a. *Asproi elephantes echoun exaphanisthei. *K bare White elephants are extinct. b. Oi asproi elephantes echoun exafanisthei. K def The white elephants are extinct. Hungarian: Hungarian a. A dinoszauruszok eltüntek. K def the dinosaur.Pl disappeared b. A kutyák okosak. GG def the dog.pl clever.Pl c. Gyerekek játszanak a kertben. Child.Pl play.Pl the yard.In bare Dayal (2004): Dayal (2004) Neo-Carlsonian approach in terms of type-shifting. Overt/covert type-shift. Plural kind formation intensional counterpart of -operation associated with definite determiner. Universal scale of definiteness: > . Languages use different cut-off points for lexicalization. Analysis in three steps: Analysis in three steps Ground article use in generic contexts on dynamic semantics of def/indef articles in episodic contexts. Typology: two classes of languages (‘bare’ generics vs. definite generics). Article choice relevant for syntax only: no semantic differences. Determined reference: Determined reference Farkas (2002): Definites are marked, indefinites are unmarked. In DRT: definites and indefinities introduce a discourse referent. Verification: embedding function f from DRS into model. Definites don’t offer choice in reference. Singular definites: Singular definites The planets revolve around the sun. (Looking at a painting that depicts an apple and two pears). The apple is beautiful! unique A student came to see me. The poor guy was in a panic. anaphoric Plural definites: Plural definites a. The planets revolve around the sun. b. (Looking at a painting that depicts an apple and two pears). The pears are beautiful! maximal c. Mary bought applesi. The applesi are on the countertop. anaphoric Formally in DRT : Formally in DRT If y is a discourse referent introduced by a definite description, and f is function that embeds the input DRS K, every f’, f” that extends f relative to y is such that f’(y) = f”(y). Static: uniqueness (sg); maximality (pl) Dynamic: familiarity (anaphora). Two constraints: Two constraints FMax (Faith Maximality) Reflect maximality features of the input in the output. *Def/-Fam Avoid non-familiar definites. Episodic vs. generic: Episodic vs. generic In episodic contexts, it is possible to satisfy both constraints. Therefore, no cross-linguistic differences. Generic contexts provide a ‘mixed’ case in which the discourse referent bears the features [+Max] [-Fam]. Both constraints cannot be satisfied. Resolve conflict in OT: Resolve conflict in OT Conceive of FMax and *Def/-Fam as violable constraints. Order FMax >> *Def/-Fam leads to definite generics. Order *Def/-Fam >> FMax leads to bare generics. Cross-linguistic differences: ranking. Dogs are intelligent GG: Dogs are intelligent GG The dogs.. in Hungarian: The dogs.. in Hungarian Dinosaurs are extinct K: Dinosaurs are extinct K The dinos (Hungarian): The dinos (Hungarian) Genericity in DRT: Genericity in DRT Genericity involves generalization over events ( de Swart 1991, 1995). Individual-level predicates: one-one mapping events and individuals. Fereira (2004): ‘bare’ habituals involve plural definite operator over events. Extend Fereira to generic sentences. Maximality: Maximality In one-one mapping situation: generic operator over pairs event x individual. Result: maximality of set of individuals derived from maximality of set of events (plural definite generic operator!). Consequence: maximality of set of individuals need not be asserted. Bare plural generics: Bare plural generics ‘Dogs are intelligent’ in DRT x,s,z Dog(x) Pl(x) z x z in s Gen s Intelligent(z,s) Definite generics: Definite generics ‘The dogs are intelligent’ in DRT !x,s,z Dog(x) Pl(x) z x z in s Gen s Intelligent(z,s) Bare plural kind reference : Bare plural kind reference kinds ‘top’ of intensionally defined lattice (Ojeda ’93, Chierchia ’98, Dayal ’04). Dinosaurs are extinct. xk, y Pl(y) xk = Dinosaur(y) Extinct(xk) Definite kind reference : Definite kind reference The dinosaurs are extinct. !xk, y Pl(y) xk = Dinosaur(y) Extinct(xk) Conclusions so far..: Conclusions so far.. Genericity ‘mixed’ case in terms of features [+Max], [-Fam]. Conflict between constraints FMax and *Def/-Fam resolved in OT. Cross-linguistic differences in ranking lead to two classes of generics: ‘bare’ and ‘definite’. Two predictions: Two predictions We should be able to obtain indefinite generics in languages like Romance, Greek, Rumanian, if input is [-Max]. We should be able to obtain definite generics in languages like English, Germanic, if input is [+Fam]. Non-standard generic sentences. Pseudo-generics: Pseudo-generics Longobardi: in Italian bare plural OK in generic contexts with modifier or modal. Ucelli di zone paludose sono ghiotti di insetti. Birds of marshlands are eager for insects. Elefanti di colore bianco possono creare grande curiosità White-coloured elephants can raise great curiosity. French: French Des guêpes énervées sont un danger terrible. Indef_pl irritated wasps are a terrible danger. Des jeunes filles doivent se montrer discrètes. Young girls have to show discreteness. Hungarian: Hungarian Beteg gyerekek rosszkedvüek. Sick child.Pl grouchy.Pl Sztrákolók tönkretehetnek egy vállalatot. Striker.Pl ruin.Poss.Pl a company. Spanish: Spanish ?Elefantes de colores claros pueden crear gran curiosidad ?Pájaros de zonas pantanosas son devoradores de insectos ?Chicas jóvenes deben mostrar discreción Non-maximality in DRT: Non-maximality in DRT ‘Sick children are grouchy’ in DRT x,s,z Child(x) Pl(x) z x Child(z) Sick(z,s) Gen s Grouchy(x,s) Non-maximality in OT: Non-maximality in OT No one-one relation between individuals and events, no maximality. FMax not violated, for no maximality. *Def/-Fam becomes the highest relevant constraint. No definite article in Romance, Hung. Bare generics as usual in English, etc. Alternating sentences: Alternating sentences Contrast between genericity and pseudo-genericity very subtle. Sometimes choice in presentation. a. Les jeunes filles doivent être modestes. descriptive/deontic b. Des jeunes filles doivent être modestes. deontic Def/indef_pl girls have to be modest. Anaphoric genericity: Anaphoric genericity Encyclopedic contexts: introduce kinds, then continue with anaphoric reference. Saurischian Bipeds – The Saurischians were the first of the two great groups to assume prominence. […] From certain of these forms, the Saurischians were certainly derived. (Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1972, p. 456). Familiar generics in OT: Familiar generics in OT In English, Dutch: *Def/-Fam >> FMax. Anaphoric genericity: [+Fam] *Def/-Fam not violated. FMax highest relevant constraint. Use definite article even in English, etc. Also use definite in Romance, etc. Conclusions so far: Conclusions so far Two facets of determined reference, two constraints in OT. Constraint ranking determines typology: bare plural generics versus definite plural generics. Non-standard genericity makes other form available: change in feature configuration. Advantage: integrated account of standard and non-standard genericity (so far not available in literature). What about singulars?: What about singulars? If the cross-linguistic variation is based on a general contrast in ranking, why does this not affect the singulars? In other words, why do generic plurals show cross-linguistic variation, but not singulars? Definite singulars: Definite singulars Definite singulars: refer to atomic kinds. Features: [+unique], [+fam] Consequence: definite article is the best choice in all languages. Therefore: no difference in article choice between Germanic and Romance. Indefinite singulars: Indefinite singulars Indefinite singulars: no kind reference (for definite singular used for that). Provides domain of quantification for generic generalization. Definite singular not appropriate for that, because of uniqueness. Singleton sets no domain of quantification (de Swart 1991, 1995). Conclusion: Conclusion Lack of variation in the singular case is the result of atomic denotation + semantics of definites/indefinites. Variation in the plural case is the result of plural domain + semantics of definites/indefinites with OT ranking.