The University of Edinburgh -
Division of Informatics
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MSc Thesis #9831

Title:An Implementation of a DRT Account of Generic Sentences
Date: 1998
Abstract:This thesis intends to give an account of the generalisation of Noun Phrases and its exceptions. Generic constructions are sentences in which the facts established by the sentence convey regularities of the kind denoted by the noun phrases of such sentence, regardless of possible exceptions to the facts. The problem of Generic Sentences has been previously analysed in McGivern (1995) using Discourse Representation Theory (Kamp 1981, Spencer-Smith 1987, Guenthner 1987, Kamp and Reyle 1993), an area not addressed by standard DRT, and given a partial solution based on Carlson's (1977) account of generics. McGivern's treatment consists of the distinction of two types of predicates (i-level and s-level) that, applied to individuals or stages, give rise respectively to generic or existential readings of the noun phrase. In order to test an extension of McGivern's grammar rules for generics, a version of the program developed by Johnson and Klein (1986) was implemented. The Prolog program implements a set of grammar and construction rules for representing generics in DTR. The program constructs Discourse Representation Structures from English input. An evaluation of the results of the program justifies the proposal of the need for a new theoretical framework for generics. Finally, some philosophical considerations about generics are proposed.

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