Generics and Conceptualizations

YoungEun Yoon 1 ,
Author Information & Copyright
1Ewha Womans University
*Corresponding Author : Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Ewha Womans University, Ewhayeodae-gil 52, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 03760, Korea, E-mail:

ⓒ Copyright 2019 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Oct 31, 2019 ; Revised: Dec 05, 2019 ; Accepted: Dec 18, 2019

Published Online: Dec 31, 2019


Generics have been studied vigorously over the past few decades, mostly by formal linguists and philosophers. As is well known, there are two representative formal approaches toward generics: majority-based and normalcy-based approaches. Both approaches have been met with criticism but continue to undergo revisions. In contrast, Leslie (2007a,2007b; 2008; 2012; 2017) proposes a cognition-based approach arguing against the majority- and normalcy-based approaches. She proposes that generics express our most primitive and fundamental generalizations and are non-quantificational. Thus, the main purpose of this paper is to propose genericity as a semantic, pragmatic, and even cognitive phenomenon, arguing that generics should be accounted for through cognitive conceptualizations. It will also be proposed that the generic operator is a quasi-universal quantifier, in contrast to both the formal and cognitive approaches. This position will be supported by experimental results.

Keywords: generics, exceptions; majority/normalcy/cognition-based views; cognitive conceptualizations; quasi-universal quantifier



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