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  1. Christopher Potts, A Preliminary Case for Conventional Implicatures.
    The history of conventional implicatures is rocky, their current status uncertain. So it seems wise to return to their source and start afresh, with an open-minded reading of the original definition (Grice 1975) and an eye open for novel factual support. Suppose the textbook examples (therefore, even, but and its synonyms) disappeared. Where would conventional implicatures be then? This book’s primary descriptive claim is that they would still enjoy widespread factual support. I match this with a theoretical proposal: if we (...)
     
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  2. Christopher Potts, Comparative Economy Conditions in Natural Language Syntax.
    The most conceptually drastic change in natural language syntactic theory in recent years is the introduction of economy conditions (ECs). Although there is not a unified formal notion of economy, the intuition is that natural languages are governed by a general “less is more” principle. Those who take this seriously, and regard it not just as principle guiding the researcher but as something to be implemented directly in grammars, are often led to comparative economy conditions (comparative ECs), which select from (...)
     
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  3. Christopher Potts, (Only) Some Crossover Effects Repaired.
    Call even, only, and own repair particles, and the effect they have of broadening the coreference possibilities in cases like (1b-d) the repair phenomenon. Importantly, although the repair particles are also focus particles, the repair phenomenon cannot be equated with focus: focusing either clients or his in (1a), in an attempt to reproduce the readings in (1b-d), is not sufficient to repair the crossover violation.
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  4. Christopher Potts, Paul Grice: Philosopher and Linguist, by Siobhan Chapman. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Pp. VII + 247. H/B £45. [REVIEW]
    Paul Grice seems to have led a quintessentially academic life — a life spent jotting notes, giving lectures, reading, talking, and arguing with his past self and with others. In virtue of his age and station, he remained largely at the fringes of the great battles of his day — World War II and the clash of the positivists with the ordinary language group. There are no grand family tensions `a la Russell, nor any deep psychoses `a la Wittgenstein. Just (...)
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  5. Christopher Potts, Semantics–Pragmatics Interaction.
    It seems unlikely that there will ever be consensus about the extent to which we can reliably distinguish semantic phenomena from pragmatic phenomena. But there is now broad agreement that a sentence's meaning can be given in full only when it is studied in its natural habitat: as part of an utterance by an agent who intends it to communicate a message. Here, we document some of the interactions that such study has uncovered. In every case, to achieve even a (...)
     
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  6. Christopher Potts, The Expressive Dimension.
    Expressives like damn and bastard have, when uttered, an immediate and powerful impact on the context. They are performative, often destructively so. They are revealing of the perspective from which the utterance is made, and they can have a dramatic impact on how current and future utterances are perceived. This, despite the fact that speakers are invariably hard-pressed to articulate what they mean. I develop a general theory of these volatile, indispensable meanings. The theory is built around a class of (...)
     
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  7. Christopher Potts, Ash Asudeh, Yurie Hara, Eric McCready, Martin Walkow, Luis Alonso-Ovalle, Rajesh Bhatt, Christopher Davis, Angelika Kratzer & Tom Roeper, Expressives and Identity Conditions.
    We present diverse evidence for the claim of Pullum and Rawlins (2007) that expressives behave differently from descriptives in constructions that enforce a particular kind of semantic identity between elements. Our data are drawn from a wide variety of languages and construction types, and they point uniformly to a basic linguistic distinction between descriptive content and expressive content (Kaplan 1999; Potts 2007).
     
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  8. Christopher Potts, Rajesh Bhatt, Joe Pater & Michael Becker, Harmonic Grammar with Linear Programming: From Linear Systems to Linguistic Typology.
    Harmonic Grammar (HG) is a model of linguistic constraint interaction in which well-formedness is calculated as the sum of weighted constraint violations. We show how linear programming algorithms can be used to determine whether there is a weighting for a set of constraints that fits a set of linguistic data. The associated software package OT-Help provides a practical tool for studying large and complex linguistic systems in the HG framework and comparing the results with those of OT. We describe the (...)
     
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  9. Christopher Potts & Tom Roeper, The Narrowing Acquisition Path: From Expressive Small Clauses to Declaratives.
    We analyze expressive small clauses like you fool (and their counterparts in other languages) as contributors of expressive content. Independently known restrictions on expressive content in turn allow us to derive their limited distribution. The theory has ramifications for child language. It correctly predicts which root-level small clauses will survive into adult grammar and which will be blocked by the acquisition of higher functional projections. It also opens the way to an analysis of children’s one- and two-word utterances as denoting (...)
     
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  10. Christopher Davis, Noah Constant, Christopher Potts & Florian Schwarz, The Pragmatics of Expressive Content: Evidence From Large Corpora.
    We use large collections of online product reviews, in Chinese, English, German, and Japanese, to study the use conditions of expressives (swears, antihonorifics, intensives). The distributional evidence provides quantitative support for a pragmatic theory of these items that is based in speaker and hearer expectations.
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  11. Christopher Potts, 106. Conventional Implicature and Expressive Content.
    This article presents evidence that individual words and phrases can contribute multiple independent pieces of meaning simultaneously. Such multidimensionality is a unifying theme of the literature on conventional implicatures and expressives. I use phenomena from discourse, semantic composition, and morphosyntax to detect and explore various dimensions of meaning. I also argue that, while the meanings involved are semantically independent, they interact pragmatically to reduce underspecification and fuel pragmatic enrichment. In this article, the central case studies are appositives like Falk, the (...)
     
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  12. Christopher Potts, Indirect Answers and Cooperation: On Asher and Lascarides's 'Making the Right Commitments in Dialogue'.
    This commentary argues that linguistic cooperation is essential even in discourse situations in which the nonlinguistic preferences of the participants are misaligned. The central examples involve indirect answers to direct questions. The analysis builds on the work of Asher and Lascarides, without, though retreating from the axioms of cooperativity as hastily as they do in the workshop paper (Asher & Lascarides 2008). I also argue (section 4) that discourse coherence and inferences from the common ground can account for much pragmatic (...)
     
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  13. Christopher Potts, Interpretive Schelling Points.
    The plan Background Indeterminacy Schelling Points Evolutionary stability More Interpretive Schelling Points..
     
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  14. Jesse A. Harris & Christopher Potts (2009). Perspective-Shifting with Appositives and Expressives. Linguistics and Philosophy 32 (6):523-552.
    Much earlier work claims that appositives and expressives are invariably speaker-oriented. These claims have recently been challenged, most extensively by Amaral et al. (Linguist and Philos 30(6): 707–749, 2007). We are convinced by this new evidence. The questions we address are (i) how widespread are non-speaker-oriented readings of appositives and expressives, and (ii) what are the underlying linguistic factors that make such readings available? We present two experiments and novel corpus work that bear directly on this issue. We find that (...)
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  15. Christopher Potts (2007). Into the Conventional-Implicature Dimension. Philosophy Compass 2 (4):665–679.
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  16. Christopher Potts (2007). The Dimensions of Quotation. In Chris Barker & Pauline I. Jacobson (eds.), Direct Compositionality. Oxford University Press. 405--431.
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  17. Christopher Potts, Formal Pragmatics.
    In the 1950s, Chomsky and his colleagues began attempts to reduce the complexity of natural language phonology and syntax to a few general principles. It wasn’t long before philosophers, notably John Searle and H. Paul Grice, started looking for ways to do the same for rational communication (Chapman 2005). In his 1967 William James Lectures, Grice presented a loose optimization system based on his maxims of conversation. The resulting papers (especially Grice 1975) strike a fruitful balance between intuitive exploration and (...)
     
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