Secondary determiners as markers of generalized instantiation in English noun phrases

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This paper is concerned with English noun phrases that denote generalized instances: they do not refer to actual spatio-temporal instances, but to virtual ones that are abstracted from a limited number of actual instances, e.g., a student in Three times, a student complained (Langacker, Foundations of Cognitive Grammar. Volume II: Descriptive application, Stanford University Press, 1991, Dynamicity, fictivity, and scanning: The imaginative basis of logic and linguistic meaning, Cambridge University Press, 2005, forthcoming). Langacker likens generalized instances to generic ones, which constitute "global" generalizations over all actual instances of a type. On the basis of authentic data, I argue that, even though the profiled instance denoted by generic and generalized noun phrases is similar, the way the respective instances are accessed in discourse is very different. My data set consists of English noun phrases that are explicitly marked for generalized instantiation by the addition of a secondary determiner such as same in The twin brothers bought the same car or kind of in There was no way we could match that kind of offer. I compare noun phrases of four sets of secondary determiners, viz. adjectives of multiple exposure (usual), of identity (same, identical), of similarity (similar, comparable) and type noun constructions (kind of/type of/sort of). These data also allow me to refine the concept of generalized instantiation in terms of its semantic subtypes, the semantic interaction between secondary determiner and primary determiner, and the selection criteria for secondary determiners that can express it. © 2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-533
Number of pages22
JournalCognitive Linguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • Generalization
  • noun phrase
  • secondary determiners
  • types of instantiation


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