Nothing is Hidden: Contextualism and the Grammar‐Meaning Interface

Mind and Language 30 (3):259-291 (2015)

Abstract

A defining assumption in the debate on contextual influences on truth-conditional content is that such content is often incompletely determined by what is specified in linguistic form. The debate then turns on whether this is evidence for positing a more richly articulated logical form or else a pragmatic process of free enrichment that posits truly unarticulated constituents that are unspecified in linguistic form. Questioning this focus on semantics and pragmatics, this article focuses on the independent grammatical dimensions of the problem. Against the background of a principled account of the different ways in which the lexicon and the grammar, respectively, determine aspects of propositional meaning, and an uncontentious notion of content, nothing turns out to be ‘missing’ in grammatical expressions in order for them to encode complete propositional thoughts. As this predicts, when putatively hidden constituents are made overt or are otherwise added, propositions result that are systematically different from the thoughts originally expressed. Context, while potentially affecting lexically specified aspects of meaning, never affects grammar-determined ones, suggesting a specific role for grammar in the normal cognitive mode

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Wolfram Hinzen
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

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