'You do it like this!' Impersonal pronouns and default reasoning
Joshua Knobe, Matthew Mandelkern, Alexander Dieball, James Kirkpatrick
November 2018

We explore impersonal pronouns in sentences like ‘You do it like this.’ Two experiments show that people tend to interpret sentences like this as communicating information about what people usually do and information about what people ought to do. A similar statistical/prescriptive mixture has been observed in existing research about other phenomena (modality, normality, and genericity). Findings from this existing research suggest that all of these other phenomena involve a default mode of reasoning. We suggest that some uses of impersonal pronouns may involve the application of this default reasoning to questions about actions.
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Reference: lingbuzz/004335
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keywords: impersonal pronouns, default reasoning, semantics
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