The semantics/pragmatics interface from an experimental perspective: The case of scalar implicature

Synthese 165 (3):385 - 401 (2008)
In this paper I discuss some of the criteria that are widely used in the linguistic and philosophical literature to classify an aspect of meaning as either semantic or pragmatic. With regards to the case of scalar implicature (e.g. some Fs are G implying that not all Fs are G), these criteria are not ultimately conclusive, either in the results of their application, or in the interpretation of the results with regards to the semantics/pragmatics distinction (or in both). I propose a psychologically relevant criterion, that of the primary or secondary role of context. This criterion applies to sub-personal processes that derive the interpretation of a scalar term rather than to the eventual interpretation of the term, and there exist well-established experimental paradigms that can generate quantitative data. I present recent studies on scalar implicature which employ such off-line and real-time paradigms, aiming to demonstrate how research on the semantics/pragmatics distinction can benefit from experimental investigation.
Keywords Scalar implicature  Processing  Psycholinguistics
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References found in this work BETA
Kent Bach (1994). Conversational Impliciture. Mind and Language 9 (2):124-162.
Emma Borg (2004). Minimal Semantics. Oxford University Press.

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