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ERIC Number: EJ858961
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 25
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 43
ISSN: ISSN-0169-0965
Generic Language and Judgements about Category Membership: Can Generics Highlight Properties as Central?
Hollander, Michelle A.; Gelman, Susan A.; Raman, Lakshmi
Language and Cognitive Processes, v24 n4 p481-505 2009
Many languages distinguish generic utterances (e.g., "Tigers are ferocious") from non-generic utterances (e.g., "Those tigers are ferocious"). Two studies examined how generic language specially links properties and categories. We used a novel-word extension task to ask if 4- to 5-year-old children and adults distinguish between generic and specific language, and judge that predicating a property of a depicted novel animal using generic language (e.g., "Bants have stripes"), rather than non-generic language (e.g., "This bant has stripes") implies a more kind-relevant connection between category and property. Participants were asked to endorse an extension of the label taught to a novel animal matching the target instance on either overall similarity or the mentioned property. Wording was found to have a significant effect on responses for both age groups. Altogether, the results of these studies suggest that the generic may be a default interpretation for young children, who need to learn the semantics of specific and set-theoretic expressions. (Contains 2 figures and 2 tables.)
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Michigan