Relevance and Linguistic Meaning: The Semantics and Pragmatics of Discourse Markers

By Diane Blakemore | Go to book overview

2
Non-truth conditional meaning

2.1 Varieties of non-truth conditional meaning

If 'meaning' is taken in its broadest sense to include both linguistically encoded meaning and meaning which is inferred from the context, then the term 'non-truth conditional meaning' can refer to two quite different aspects of the interpretation of an utterance. On the one hand, it can refer to the contribution made by expressions and structures which cannot be analysed as a contribution to the truth conditions of the utterances that contain them, for example, the contribution made by but in (1) and the cleft structure in (2a) and (b).

(1) I've got the tomatoes and peppers but they didn't have any lemons.(2)
a. It was Anna who found the cat.
b. It was the cat that Anna found.

On the other hand, it can be taken to refer to meaning which cannot be attributed to the presence of any particular expression or structure but which is due to the particular context in which an utterance is made. Thus while the suggestion of contrast or incompatibility conveyed in (1) is due to the use of but, the suggestion that B did not manage to get everything is recovered from her utterance in (3) only because it is interpreted in the context triggered by A's question. In another context, for example, the one triggered by the utterance in (4), the suggestion would not arise.

(3)
A. Did you get everything?
B. They didn't have any lemons.

(4) What shall we make — chocolate mousse or lemon mousse?

In all of these cases, there is a suggestion which will not be regarded as a condition on the truth of the utterance that communicates it. Thus the truth or falsity of the suggestion that there is some kind of incompatibility between the two segments of (1) has no bearing on the truth value of (1) at all: it will be true

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Relevance and Linguistic Meaning: The Semantics and Pragmatics of Discourse Markers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Meaning and Truth 12
  • 2 - Non-Truth Conditional Meaning 32
  • 3 - Relevance and Meaning 59
  • 4 - Procedural Meaning 89
  • 5 - Relevance and Discourse 149
  • Conclusion 184
  • Bibliography 186
  • General Index 193
  • Name Index 198
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