Genericity (linguistics)

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Genericity called in linguistics the property of certain terms , be interpreted to be able to identify classes of objects. In contrast, there is a referential interpretation. Generic expressions are used to express generalizations about the classes that designate them.

In the following example from German, the use of the noun autos as a noun phrase without an article and a modifying adjective triggers a generic interpretation of the same:

Cars are the main source of air pollution.

The definite article in the singular can often trigger a generic interpretation (“The car is the main cause of air pollution”, generalizing singular ).

The use of the article in generic expressions differs greatly from language to language. The French preferred as noun phrases with the definite article in the plural:

Les chats mangent des souris.
Cats eat mice.

See also