Normative Generics and Norm Breaching – A Questionnaire-Based Study of Parent-Child Interactions in English

Abstract

The present paper focuses on the phenomenon of normativity and genericity in language and cognition. More specifically, it investigates the use of normative generics, which are generalizations that state an ideal norm for a given category, in the context of norm breaching in parent-child interactions in English. This issue is researched by means of a specially designed questionnaire including 8 norm breaching parent-child interactions, which has been completed online by ca. 70 English-speaking female respondents. The paper uses qualitative and quantitative methods to address two specific research issues. First, it compares the frequency of use of normative generics in norm breaching situations vis-à-vis the use of other types of normative linguistic expressions. Second, it analyses selected factors that are believed to favour the use of normative generics, including interactive openness of a given situation, norm salience, and perceived norm importance. Moreover, the paper sketches an explanatory model of normative generics that draws upon insights from the Conceptual Metonymy Theory, Construction Grammar, and Dual System Theory.

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