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

By Diane Blakemore | Go to book overview

4
Procedural meaning

4.1 Constraints on relevance: new questions

According to the arguments of the previous chapter, the distinction between conceptual and procedural encoding cross-cuts the speech act theoretic distinction between describing and indicating: not all of the expressions defined within the speech act theoretic framework as indicators can be analysed as encoding procedures, and not all expressions which encode procedures are analysed within the speech act theoretic framework as indicators. In view of the fact that the two distinctions are not co-extensive, the decision to take the relevance theoretic distinction as the fundamental one in a theory of linguistic semantics could be construed as a recommendation to simply forget the speech act theoretic distinction, and in particular, as a recommendation to drop the notion of indicating or signalling or pointing altogether. After all, it seems that we now have something less metaphorical to work with, namely, coded means for constraining the inferential tasks involved in utterance interpretation. However, in this section I shall show that we still have much to learn about what it means for an expression to encode a procedure. Moreover, it seems that it may be illuminating to compare such expressions with natural or non-coded means for pointing to something.

Let us recall my (1987) analysis of the role of after all in (1):

(1) Ben can open Tom's safe. After all, he knows the combination.

A hearer who interprets (1) will take the conceptual representation in (2a) together with the conceptual representation in (2b) and derive the conceptual representation in (2c). The effect of this inference will be a strengthened assumption, or, in other words, a conceptual representation which is held with a degree of strength that is higher than it would have been prior to the interpretation of the second segment.

-89-

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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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