▪the mean of vectors of words and inflectional
functions surrounding a target word token 
▪computed based on the semantic vectors
generated by NDL
A prediction of generic they semantics
Generic they is generic and
singular and shows remnants
Background & Motivation
▪besides the prototypical plural they, there are at least four other types of they 
(1) generic indefinite: Someone ran out of the classroom, but they forgot their backpack.
(2) generic definite: The ideal student completes the homework, but not if they have an emergency.
(3) specific definite ungendered: The math teacher is talented, but they hand back grades late.
(4) specific definite gendered: James is great at laundry, but they never wash their dishes.
▪while there is research from sociolinguistics
and syntax [e.g. 1-4], there are no semantic
analyses of singular they and pronouns in
▪RQ: What are the semantics of generic they?
Naive Discriminative Learning –NDL
▪based on well-established theory in cognitive
▪computes semantic vectors of words and
inflectional features via cues and outcomes
Linear Discriminative Learning – LDL
▪linguistic knowledge and underlying features
▪maps forms onto meanings and vice versa;
simulates mental lexicon and its interrelations
▪generic they appears to be a generic singular
pronoun with remnants of plurality
▪generic they is comprehended significantly
better than plural they
▪generic they coactivates entries in the lexicon
to same degree as plural they does
▪semantic analyses of pronouns appear to be
▪the Discriminative Lexicon  is a framework
fit to explore pronoun semantics
Linear Discriminative Learning –Background
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The author would like to thank the members of the department of English language and
linguistics at Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, with special thanks to the (former) members of the DFG project
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