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Document Details :
Title: Reference to hierarchically ordered kinds in Dutch
Author(s): OOSTERHOF, Albert
Journal: Leuvense Bijdragen - Leuven Contributions in Linguistics and Philology
Volume: 92 Issue: 1-2 Date: 2003
In this paper the results are presented of corpus research into the subject-NPs of generic sentences in Dutch. In the literature about genericity in English, it has been noted that definite singulars become less well-formed if they refer to a kind that is ‘too general’. In this paper this intuition about English is compared to the results of corpus research into the use of these NPs in Dutch. We argue that, contrary to definite singulars, bare plural subject-NPs of generic sentences are ambiguous : they can be interpreted as kind-referring NPs or as object-referring NPs. Thus, we can explain the fact that definite singulars in contrast to bare plurals appear less frequently when the category is located higher in the hierarchy. Moreover, this analysis is consistent with the constraints on the use of bare plurals and definite singulars in generic contexts in Dutch.