This paper addresses the semantics of two types of generic sentences in Brazilian Portuguese (BPg): generic sentences with Indefinite Subjects (IS); and generic sentences with Bare Numberless (BN) subjects. The two types of sentences are both instances of generic quantification. Nonetheless, they differ in their semantics: IS sentences are more normative, whereas BN sentences are more descriptive. I show that Greenberg’s 2002 approach for IS and Bare Plural English generic sentences holds for IS and BN generic sentences in BPg, and that the differences between the two sentences should be attributed to the fact that they express different kinds of modalities. The paper claims that the ability to induce different modalities is related to the different denotations of their subject nominals. IS subjects have atomic denotations and generalizations based on atoms are much more restricted than generalizations based on the number-neutral denotations of BN subjects.
"Generic sentences with indefinite and bare subjects in Brazilian Portuguese,"
Semantics of Under-Represented Languages in the Americas: Vol. 2
, Article 6.
Available at: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/sula/vol2/iss1/6