Generically Speaking, or, Using Discourse Representation Theory to Interpret Generics

  • Lenhart K. Schubert
  • Francis Jeffry Pelletier
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 39)


In this paper we discuss a proposal for representing the logical form of generic and habitual sentences. The proposal is a development of Schubert and Pelletier (1987), although it stands on its own and can be comprehended without having first read the earlier paper. (Most of what would be missed would merely be a discussion of background literature, and reasons to want a different logical form from those extant in the literature).


Main Clause Existential Quantifier Generic Sentence Bare Plural Context Space 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Åqvist, L., Hoepelman, J., and Rohrer, C: 1979, ‘Adverbs of Frequency’, in C. Rohrer (ed.), Time, Tense and Quantifiers (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag), pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
  2. Åqvist, L. and Guenthner, F.: 1976, ‘Quantification Theory for Natural Language Based on Multi-Dimensional Modal Logics with Demonstratives’, in F. Guenthner and M. Guenthner-Reutter, Meaning and Translation (London: Duckworth), pp. 327–353.Google Scholar
  3. Bacchus, F. and Schubert, L. K.: 1987, ‘Predicates with Probabilities’, Univ. Alberta Dept. Science Technical Report.Google Scholar
  4. Barwise, J. and Perry, J.: 1983, Situations and Attitudes (Cambridge: Bradford-MIT).Google Scholar
  5. Carlson, G.: 1977a, Reference to Kinds in English, Univ. Mass. PhD dissertation, available from Indiana University Linguistics Club.Google Scholar
  6. Carlson, G.: 1977b, ‘A Unified Analysis of the English Bare Plural’, Linguistics and Philosophy 1,413–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carlson, G.: 1979, ‘Generics and Atemporal When’, Linguistics and Philosophy 3, 49–98.Google Scholar
  8. Carlson, G.: 1982, ‘Generic Terms and Generic Sentences’, Journal of Philosophical Logic 11, 145–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carlson, G.: 1985, ‘Exceptions to Generic Generalizations’, ms. Linguistics, Univ. Iowa.Google Scholar
  10. Chierchia, G.: 1982a, ‘Nominalization and Montague Grammar: a Semantics without Types for Natural Languages’, Linguistics and Philosophy 5, 303–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chierchia, G.: 1982b, ‘On Plural and Mass Nominais’, Proceedings of the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics 1.Google Scholar
  12. Cooper, R.: 1979, ‘The Interpretation of Pronouns’, in F. Heny and H. Schnelle (eds.), Syntax and Semantics 10: Selections from the Third Groningen Round Table (N.Y.: Academic Press), 61–92.Google Scholar
  13. Dowty, D.: 1982, ‘Tenses, Time Adverbials, and Compositional Semantic Theory’, Linguistics and Philosophy 5, 23–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Evans, G.: 1977, ‘Pronouns, Quantifiers and Relative Clauses (1)’ and ‘Pronouns, Quantifiers and Relative Clauses (2): Appendix’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 7, 467–536 and 777–798.Google Scholar
  15. Farkas, D. and Sugioka, Y.: 1983, ‘Restrictive if/when Clauses’, Linguistics and Philosophy 6, 225–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fine, K.: 1985, Reasoning With Arbitrary Objects (Oxford: Blackwell’s).Google Scholar
  17. Fodor, J. D. and Sag, I.: 1982, ‘Referential and Quantificational Indefinites’, Linguistics and Philosophy 5, 355–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gazdar, G., Klein, E., Pullum, G., and Sag, I.: 1985, Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar (Oxford: Blackwell’s).Google Scholar
  19. Geach, P.: 1962, Reference and Generality (Ithaca: Cornell UP).Google Scholar
  20. Groenendijk, J. and Stokhof, M.: 1987, ‘Dynamic Predicate Logic’. Paper presented at ASL/LSA “Logic and Linguistics” meetings, Stanford.Google Scholar
  21. Heim, I.: 1982, The Semantics of Definite and Indefinite Noun Phrases, PhD dissertation, Univ. Mass.Google Scholar
  22. Hintikka, J. and Carlson, L.: 1979, ‘Conditionals, Generic Quantifiers, and Other Applications of Subgames’, in A. Margalit (ed.), Meaning and Use (Dordrecht: Reidel).Google Scholar
  23. Hornstein, N.: 1984, Logic as Grammar (Cambridge: Bradford-MIT).Google Scholar
  24. Kamp, H.: 1981, ‘A Theory of Truth and Semantic Representation’, in J. Groenendijk, T. Janssen and M. Stokhof (eds.), Formal Methods in the Study of Language (Amsterdam: Mathematical Centre-tracts, Univ. Amsterdam).Google Scholar
  25. Karttunen, L.: 1969, ‘Pronouns and Variables’, Proceedings of CLS V, 108–116.Google Scholar
  26. Kratzer, A.: 1979, ‘Conditional Necessity and Possibility’, in R. Bauerle, U. Egli and A. von Stechow (eds.), Semantics from Different Points of View (N.Y.: Springer-Verlag).Google Scholar
  27. Krifka, M.: 1987, ‘A Typology of Generics’. Paper presented to Conference on Linguistic and Philosophical Aspects of Generics, Stanford.Google Scholar
  28. LePore, E. and Garson, J.: 1983, ‘Pronouns and Quantifier-Scope in English’, Journal of Philosophical Logic 12, 327–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lewis, D.: 1975, ‘Adverbs of Quantification’, in E. Keenan (ed.), Formal Semantics of Natural Language (Cambridge: Cambridge UP).Google Scholar
  30. Lønning, J. T.: 1987, ‘Collective Readings of Definite and Indefinite Noun Phrases’, ms. Matematisk Instirutt, Universitetet i Oslo, Norway.Google Scholar
  31. McCord, M.: 1981, ‘Focalizers, the Scoping Problem, and Semantic Interpretation Rules in Logic Grammars’, Technical Report, Univ. Kentucky.Google Scholar
  32. Partee, B.: 1972, ‘Opacity, Coreference, and Pronouns’, in D. Davidson and G. Harman (eds.), Semantics for Natural Language (Dordrecht: Reidel), pp. 415–441.Google Scholar
  33. Partee, B.: 1973, ‘Some Structural Analogies Between Tenses and Pronouns in English’, Journal of Philosophy 70, 601–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Partee, B.: 1978, ‘Bound Variables and Other Anaphors’, Proceedings of TINLAP-2, pp. 79–85.Google Scholar
  35. Pelletier, F. J. and Schubert, L. K.: 1985, ‘Mass Expressions’, in D. Gabbay and F. Guenthner (eds.), Handbook of Philosophical Logic, Vol IV (Dordrecht: Reidel), forthcoming.Google Scholar
  36. Pollard, C: 1983, ‘On the Correct Use of Lambda Calculus in Generalized Phrase Structure Grammars’, ms. Stanford University.Google Scholar
  37. Richards, B. and Heny, F.: 1982, ‘Tense, Aspect, and Time Adverbials, Part I’, Linguistics and Philosophy 5, 59–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Roberts, C: 1987, Modal Subordination, Anaphora, and Distributivity. PhD dissertation, Univ. Mass.Google Scholar
  39. Schubert, L. K.: 1982, ‘An Approach to the Syntax and Semantics of Affixes in ‘Conventionalized’ Phrase Structure Grammar’, in Proc. of the Fourth CSCSI/SCEIO Conference (Univ. of Saskatchewan), pp. 189–195.Google Scholar
  40. Schubert, L. K. and Pelletier, F. J.: 1982, ‘From English to Logic: Context Free Computation of ‘Conventional’ Logic Translations’, American Journal of Computational Linguistics, 26–44. Reprinted, with corrections, in B. Grosz, K. Spark-Jones, and B. Webber, Readings in Natural Language Processing (Los Altos, Cal.: Morgan Kaufmann), 1986, pp. 293–312.Google Scholar
  41. Schubert, L. K. and Pelletier, F. J.: 1987, ‘Problems in the Interpretation of the Logical Form of Generics, Bare Plurals, and Mass Terms’, in E. LePore (ed.), New Directions in Semantics (London: Academic Press), pp. 387–453.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lenhart K. Schubert
  • Francis Jeffry Pelletier

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations