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Zum generischen Maskulinum: Bedeutung und Gebrauch der nicht-movierten Personenbezeichnungen im Deutschen

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The so-called “generic masculine” nouns in German are personal nouns that appear to be ambiguous having one reading that refers to male persons only and another that refers to both sexes. Only the first usage is regarded to be politically correct. The second usage often is taken to be a case of neutralization of the masculine noun with a corresponding feminine noun suffixed by -in. The present article relates this much-discussed topic to the findings of L. Horn (1984), which point to a description of that assumed ambiguity as a case of “autohyponymy” triggered by a conversational implicature. Under that analysis the politically incorrect generic reading, which is supposed to be charmed away, turns out to be the unique lexical meaning of those nouns, the other reading being an implicature.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2008

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    New research results and linguistic developments are published quickly and comprehensively, and contributions are normally published within one year after acceptance by the editors.
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