Dissertation, Rutgers University, New Brunswick (2018)

Peter van Elswyk
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Declarative sentences in English are either unqualified or qualified with an epistemic expression like a parenthetical verb. In this dissertation, I defend parentheticalism, the view that most apparently unqualified declaratives in English covertly contain the verb "know" with a first-person subject in parenthetical position. Paired with a multidimensional semantics for parenthetical verbs, parentheticalism predicts that the use of an apparently unqualified declarative represents the speaker as knowing the at-issue proposition expressed by the declarative in the context. Since the representation of speaker knowledge is what the speech act of assertion is otherwise needed to explain, parentheticalism—by better explaining such knowledge representation—has the consequence that assertion is unnecessary for explaining what the use of a declarative typically does in a context.
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