A generalisation is a general statement and it is generally true but it is not necessarily universally true. Here are some more examples of generalisations:
All Americans are white.
All Germans are blond.
All melons are sweet.
All Chinese people can speak Chinese.
All women are physically weaker than all men.
Although a statement might be generally true, it might have an exception. If there is one exception to a general statement, then it is not universally true. If you can find one non-white American, one German who is not blond, one melon which is bitter, one Chinese person who can not speak Chinese or one woman who is physically stronger than one man, then the above generalisations are not universally true.
Let’s look at the family of words we have used that are related to “generalisation”:
to generalise (verb)
If you reread the above text, you should be able to pick out the following phrases:
a general statement
These statements are called collocations. Some combinations of words occur frequently.
When you come across the word “generally” it will often be followed by the word “true” or the word “speaking”. We say that “generally true and “generally speaking are strong collocations because these words often occur in combination in the English language.
In the military of different countries there are different systems for describing the hierarchy of ranks. They are not all the same. Generally speaking a general is higher in rank than a colonel, but in Libya Colonel Gadaffi held the highest rank which was the rank of Colonel. This was an exception to the general rule. Look at these military ranks:
Did you do military service?
Do people generally do military service in your country?
Do you frequently generalise or do you try to make specific statements which are less likely to have exceptions?
Compare these two statements:
All women are shorter than all men.
Most women are shorter most men.
The second statement is more specific. It uses the quantifier “most” instead of the quantifier “all”. This gives it more chance of being universally true. It is more specific.
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