Pragmatics and Cognition 16 (3):439-470 (2008)

Ever since the seminal work of Paul Grice, tautologies such as Business is business have been discussed from a number of angles. While most approaches assume that tautological utterances have to do with the operation of conversational maxims, an integrated analysis is still lacking. This paper makes an attempt at analysing tautologies within the framework of Levinson, who proposes a distinction between three pragmatic levels, namely Indexical Pragmatics, Gricean Pragmatics 1, and Gricean Pragmatics 2. It is shown that observations of Ward and Hirschberg on the exclusion of alternatives, the claim of Autenrieth that the second NP in nominal equatives is predicative, and the recent insights of Bulhof and Gimbel on `deep' tautology, may be fruitfully integrated within Levinson's framework. The gist of this paper is to show that tautologies are not as tautological as once thought, because implicatures influence their truth conditions. Data are drawn from the author's corpus of authentic German examples.
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