Genericity in event semantics: A look at Yoruba generic sentences
Taofeeq Adebayo
November 2017

In this paper, I argue for a theory of genericity that is based on neo-Davidsonian event semantics (Parson 1990& 2000; Higginbotham, 2000; etc.). I argue that in generic sentences there are ontologically two sorts of things that have generic interpretation: individuals and eventualities. I distinguish broadly between three types of individual: kind individuals, generic individuals and concrete individuals. A distinction is made between particular events and generic events on the one hand; and between kind-level states, individual-level states, stage-level states and generic states on the other hand. I propose that only generic individuals truly require the presence of the Gen operator and that kind and concrete individuals are existentially closed with the logical form of kind individual involving a type-shifting operation. Also, I propose that generic events and generic states contain the generic predicate ‘gen (e)’ which turns concrete eventualities into generic ones and that the other types of eventuality also have their respective predicates that distinguish them from one another. Using this framework to account for genericity in Yoruba has two implications for current theories of genericity and event semantics. First, it is shown that Kimian states (Maienborn, 2007) in Yoruba have an E-position that the generic predicate (the imperfective) máa-ń targets (contrary to expectation). Second, in some constructions máa-ń is best treated as the operator Gen, suggesting that the so-called silent operator Gen is not always silent in Yoruba.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003683
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: genericity, events, kimian states, ontology, yoruba, semantics
previous versions: v1 [October 2017]
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