The nature of linguistic understanding is a much-debated topic. Among the issues that have been discussed, two questions have recently received a lot of attention: (Q1) ‘Are states of understanding direct (i.e. represent solely what is said) or indirect (i.e. represent what is said as being said/asserted)?’ and (Q2) ‘What kind of mental attitude is linguistic understanding (e.g. knowledge, belief, seeming)?’ This paper argues that, contrary to what is commonly assumed, there is no straightforward answer to either of these questions. (...) This is because linguistic understanding cannot be identified with a single mental attitude towards a particular representation. Instead, we should characterize states of linguistic understanding as involving complex representational structures generated by a dual-stream process. The first stream operates on direct representations of what is said, while the second operates on representations of what is said as being said/asserted by a given source. Both these streams feed a situation model, i.e. a complex representation of a state of affairs described by a given piece of discourse. (shrink)
This paper presents a study into the Hindi-Urdu 'na' as a sentence-final particle. Although also used as a topic marker and negation, 'na' occurs sentence-finally across clause-types. In light of the data, we think the following hypothesis offers the best fit: 'na' signals the speaker’s belief that the content of na’s containing clause is a reasonable inference, given what’s common ground. Notably, in addition to other clause-types, we explore na's distribution in exclamations and exclamatives. We link our work to recent (...) research on the polar question particle 'kya' in Hindi-Urdu. (shrink)
We focus on a sui generis grounding move in Hindi-Urdu dialogue, namely 'voh hi na'. 'Voh' is third person pronoun and can function as a propositional anaphor in dialogue. 'Hi' and 'na' are two discourse particles in Hindi-Urdu. A dataset consisting of minimal pairs of dialogues is presented to get a better sense of the move. Using dynamic models of discourse structure, we propose a semantics for 'voh hi na' in terms of its update effects.
Hobbs (2010) introduced ‘clause-internal coherence’ (CIC) to describe inferences in, e.g., ‘A jogger was hit by a car,’ where the jogging is understood to have led to the car-hitting. Cohen & Kehler (2021) argue that well-known pragmatic tools cannot account for CIC, motivating an enrichment account familiar from discourse coherence research. An outstanding question is how to compositionally derive CIC from coherence relations. This paper takes strides in answering this question. It first provides experimental support for the existence of CIC (...) via offline evidence that attributive (non-)deverbal adjectives can trigger the same causal inferences within clauses that their predicative counterparts can trigger across clauses, albeit more weakly. To explain the experimental results, we use tools in Segmented Discourse Representation Theory (SDRT), which allows us to show that causal inferences can be derived in various ways, depending on whether deverbal adjectives are used attributively or predicatively. If the former, they are presupposition triggers and the coherence relations Elaboration/Continuation compete with Background; if the latter, Explanation/Result compete with Background. These different competitions -- cashed out in terms of interaction between default axioms -- correlate with the difference in the relative salience of the causal inferences. (shrink)
Deictic (or pointing) gestures are traditionally known to have a simple function: to supply something as the referent of a demonstrative linguistic expression. I argue that deixis can have a more complex function. A deictic gesture can be used to _say something_ in conversation and can thereby become a full discourse move in its own right. To capture this phenomenon, which I call _rich demonstration_, I present an update semantics on which deictic gestures can indicate situations from a conversation’s context (...) and those situations coherently connect to prior discourse to generate information. (shrink)
Recent advances in the Super Linguistics of pictures have laid the Super Semantic foundation for modelling the phenomena of narrative sequencing and co-reference in pictorial and mixed linguistic-pictorial discourses. We take up the question of how one arrives at the pragmatic interpretations of such discourses. In particular, we offer an analysis of: (i) the discourse composition problem: how to represent the joint meaning of a multi-picture discourse, (ii) observed differences in narrative sequencing in prima facie equivalent linguistic vs pictorial discourses, (...) and (iii) the phenomenon of co-referencing across pictures. We extend Segmented Discourse Representation Theory to spell out a formal Super Pragmatics that applies to linguistic, pictorial and mixed discourses, while respecting the particular ‘genius’ of either medium and computing their distinctive pragmatic interpretations. (shrink)
We propose to characterize imaginative resistance as the failure or unwillingness of the reader to take a fictional description of a deviant reality at face value. The goal of the paper is to explore how readers deal with such a breakdown of the default Face Value interpretation strategy. We posit two distinct interpretative ‘coping’ strategies which help the reader engage with the resistance-inducing fiction by attributing the offending content to one of the fictional characters. We present novel empirical evidence that (...) shows that actual readers use these strategies and we flesh out the exact workings of these strategies by integrating them into a general formal semantic framework for interpreting fiction. (shrink)
Religious discourse is one of the instruments that are often used by the dominant class (the majority, who are in power) to carry out a symbolic violence mechanism against the dominated class (the minority, who are ruled). For example, through religious discourses that seem plural and open, the power and domination of the dominant class are continuously perpetuated. This study aims to analyze the symbolic violence that occurs in religious discourse in Indonesia, especially in the study of religion, by reviewing (...) the discourse of “agama vs. kepercayaan” and “moderasi beragama”. The symbolic violence referred to here is, according to Pierre Bourdieu's theory, violence that does not appear asviolence and is latent. Victims of this type of violence do not feel that they are victims ofviolence as if what happened was natural and it should have been. This study also argues that symbolic violence in religious discourse in Indonesia is widely produced in educational institutions, especially through the hands of academics, because through educational institutions, discourses of “agama vs. kepercayaan” and “moderasi beragama” are formulated and then implemented in government policies, as if the discourse has accommodated all religions and beliefs, but only perpetuates the way of thinking and tastes of the dominant class. In short, this study argues that religious discourses such as “agama vs. kepercayaan” and “moderasi beragama” are produced by the dominant class through educational institutions and so on and produce symbolic violence. (shrink)
Punctuation has so far attracted attention within the linguistics community mostly from a syntactic perspective. In this paper, we give a preliminary account of the information-based aspects of punctuation, drawing our points from assorted, naturally occurring sentences. We present our formal models of these sentences and the semantic contributions of punctuation marks. Our formalism is a simplified analogue of an extension --- due to Nicholas Asher --- of Discourse Representation Theory.
This is a review of From Discourse to Logic: Introduction to Modeltheoretic Semantics of Natural Language, Formal Logic and Discourse Representation Theory, written by Hans Kamp and Uwe Reyle and published by Kluwer Academic Publishers in 1993.