Ignorance and grammar
Author(s)Meyer, Marie-Christine, Ph. D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.
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In this thesis, I propose a new theory of implicature. I argue that the two main theories available so far - the (Neo-)Gricean pragmatic theory on the one hand (e.g., Sauerland (2004)), and the hybrid grammatical theory of scalar implicatures on the other hand (e.g., Fox (2007)) - cannot provide a satisfactory account of disjunctions like Al drank some or all of the beers. As I will show, the meaning of these sentences is characterized by the presence of grammatical ignorance implicatures. In this they differ from their simpler alternatives. I will show how the proposed Matrix K theory of implicature derives this result. The new theory is a radically grammatical theory in that all kinds of implicatures - weak, scalar, and ignorance implicatures - are derived in the grammar. I will also show how Hurford's constraint can be derived from a general principle of manner in the new theory. I will then turn to logically under-informative statements like Some elephants are mammals and show how their oddness falls out from the Matrix K theory without further stipulations. Next, I argue that the theory extends to infelicitous Hurford disjunctions like Jean is from France or from Paris. Both phenomena can receive a uniform explanation in terms of grammatically derived, contextually inconsistent implicatures, without stipulating obligatory scalar implicatures. Lastly, I turn to the case of implicature suspension and show how the new theory can account for missing implicatures.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy, 2013.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 176-186).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Linguistics and Philosophy.