Manuscrito 32 (1):59-84 (2009)

Anne Louise Bezuidenhout
University of South Carolina
Some part of the debate between minimalists and contextualists can be construed as merely terminological and can be resolved by agreeing to a certain division of labor. Minimalist claims are to be understood as claims about what is needed for adequate formal compositional semantic models of language understood in abstraction from real conversational contexts. Contextualist claims are ones about how language users produce and understand utterances by manipulating features of the psychological and discourse contexts of the conversational participants in real conversational settings. However, some minimalists have attempted to engage contextualists more directly by defending a form of psychological minimalism. The minimal proposition expressed by a sentence S is construed either as the most general content shared by all possible utterances of S or as the content that expresses the fewest commitments. Both conceptions are shown to be problematic by an extended analysis of the de-contextualized sentence ‘John is ready’. Finally, evidence is presented from the psychological literature to show that lack of contextual clues can seriously degrade understanding. This evidence points to the crucial role of discourse factors, such as conversational topics and other contextual framing devices, in utterance understanding.Parte do debate opondo contextualistas e minimalistas pode ser reconstruída como meramente terminológico e poderia ser resolvido com um acordo sobre uma certa divisão do trabalho. As teses dos minimalistas podem ser entendidas como teses sobre o que é preciso para construir modelos semânticos, formais, composicionais e adequados da linguagem compreendida em completa abstração dos contextos conversacionais reais. As teses contextualistas dizem respeito à maneira como os usuários da linguagem produzem e entendem frases, pela manipulação de traços dos contextos psicológicos e discursivos dos participantes engajados em conversações em ambientes conversacionais reais. No entanto, alguns minimalistas tentaram relançar o debate defendendo uma forma de minimalismo psicológico. A proposição mínima que uma frase S expressa é construída, ou como o conteúdo mais geral compartilhado por todas as enunciações de S, ou como o conteúdo que expressa os menores compromissos. Ambas as concepções se revelam problemáticas através de uma análise extensa da frase descontextualizada “João está pronto”. Finalmente, evidências presentes na literatura em psicologia são apresentadas mostrando que a falta de pistas contextuais afeta negativamente a compreensão. Essas evidências apontam para o papel crucial, para a compreensão de enunciação, dos fatores do discurso, tais como os tópicos conversacionais e outros mecanismos de enquadramento contextual
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