Tuesday, Oct. 24, 12-12:50 p.m.
Research seminar in Linguistics: Arthur Sullivan
Grice’s notion of ‘implicature’ is among the most important concepts in pragmatics, but there remains controversy concerning the exact extension of the concept, and its theoretical upshot. What exactly is an implicature, and what are the important sub-types? What does the notion of implicature show, ultimately, about the interface between
semantics (the study of linguistic meaning) and pragmatics (the study of linguistic usage)? My talk explores some of this contested terrain.
It is focused on embedding implicatures: i.e., take an utterance which carries an implicature, and observe the effects of situating the operative linguistic expression in a complex, multi-clausal construction. Attempts to use embedding data to pose trouble for Grice’s theory have a long history: (i) Cohen (1971) uses embedding data to trouble Grice’s approach to logical particles; (ii) Bach (1999) and Potts (2005) use embedding data to isolate problems for the
notion of conventional implicature; (iii) there is massive and still growing post-Levinson (2000) literature on embedded scalar implicatures; (iv) Camp (2012, 2017) explores embedded metaphors, sarcasm, and various other sorts of expressive contents that many are inclined to approach as Gricean implicatures.
I argue that the question ‘Exactly which sub-types of implicatures embed?’ gets a surprisingly messy answer, and I discuss some speculative suggestions as to why that is.
Presented by Department of Linguistics