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The radical account of bare plural generics

  • Anthony NguyenEmail author
Article
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Abstract

Bare plural generic sentences pervade ordinary talk. And yet it is extremely controversial what semantics to assign to such sentences. In this paper, I achieve two tasks. First, I develop a novel classification of the various standard uses to which bare plurals may be put. This “variety data” is important—it gives rise to much of the difficulty in systematically theorizing about bare plurals. Second, I develop a novel account of bare plurals, the radical account. On this account, all bare plurals fail to express propositions. The content of a bare plural has to be pragmatically “completed” by a speaker in order for her to make an assertion. At least the content of a quantifier expression has to be supplied. But sometimes, the content of a sentential operator or modal verb is also supplied. The radical account straightforwardly explains the variety data: Speakers’ communicative intentions vary wildly across different contexts. The radical account should be taken seriously in the literature on generics.

Keywords

Generics Bare plurals Impliciture Pragmatic enrichment Pragmatics Semantics Philosophy of language 

Notes

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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