Existential Generics and Information Structure
Zhengjie Situ
July 2022

Bare Plurals in English are ambiguous between a generic and an existential interpretation. Cohen & Erteschik-shir (2002) claim that information structure completely determines which reading is available: a topical bare plural is interpreted generically while a bare plural in focus is interpreted existentially. In this paper I argue that although their observation largely holds, several unmotivated assumptions about focus-topic articulation make the framework inflexible. I propose that an alternative framework that models information structure within discourse using questions, answers and answering strategies is superior in both explanatory power and empirical cover.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006707
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: ESSLLI 2022, Galway (Ireland)
keywords: bare plural, information structure, generic, existential, focus, topic, contrastive topic, question under discussion, semantics
previous versions: v1 [July 2022]
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