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mar. 19/03/2019 Réunion Interne
When pragmatic inference is ensconced in conventional language
ISH, salle E. Léger
Conférence de :
  • Ira Noveck
dans le cadre DENDY

For the last twenty years or so, much experimental work has been focused on what Grice called conversational implicatures, i.e. cases where extralinguistic pragmatic inferences provide enriching cues to a speaker’s intended meaning. For some linguists, the pragmatic effects linked to scalar implicature (where, e.g., Some participants are children can be understood as Some but not all participants are children), which has been considered a canonical case of a Generalized Conversational Implicature (Levinson, 2000), are viewed as so automatic that they are practically grammatical, to the point that a scalar term along with its inference are to be viewed as a singular conventional expression. In the first part of this talk, I take a step back to re-evaluate such claims and partly by showing that this view does not align with the extant data. I then turn to phenomena in which the pragmatic import of expressions is indeed conventionalized. This prompts a very brief consideration of what Lewis meant by convention and a presentation of Grice's notion of conventional implicature, which refers to a class of expressions that include a pragmatic procedure but without altering an utterance's truth-conditional meaning (e.g., but provides contrast while being truth-functionally equivalent to and). This leads me to report on some of my recent attempts with colleagues to experimentally isolate pragmatic features in participants' behaviors when they are responding with, or evaluating, French conventionalized expressions that have an ensconced pragmatic meaning.



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