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LINGUIST List 17.2409

Sun Aug 27 2006

Diss: Semantics: Feng: 'A Theory of Conventional Implicature and Pr...'

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        1.    Guangwu Feng, A Theory of Conventional Implicature and Pragmatic Markers in Chinese


Message 1: A Theory of Conventional Implicature and Pragmatic Markers in Chinese
Date: 25-Aug-2006
From: Guangwu Feng <guangwufyahoo.com>
Subject: A Theory of Conventional Implicature and Pragmatic Markers in Chinese


Institution: University of Reading
Program: Department of Linguistic Science
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Guangwu Feng

Dissertation Title: A Theory of Conventional Implicature and Pragmatic Markers in Chinese

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin (cmn)

Dissertation Director:
Yan Huang

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis presents a fresh approach to our understanding of pragmatic
markers which differs substantially from those in the contemporary
literature. It starts with a major re-reading of Grice's overall theory of
meaning, which challenges both the neo-Gricean and the relevance-
theoretic interpretations of Grice's framework. On the basis of this, it seeks
to rescue the classical Gricean notion of conventional implicature which has
been generally rejected by philosophers and linguists. It then proposes a
theory of conventional implicature by taking Grice's (1961, 1975, 1989)
sketchy discussions as a point of departure. Conventional implicature is
defined as a subjective thought with respect to a propositional content. It is
characterized by non-truth-conditionality, infallibility, occurrency, and
default speaker-orientation. It is also syntactically dispensable, semantically
dependent, and pragmatically context-dependent. The proposed theory of
conventional implicature thus enriches the Gricean theory of meaning
along Gricean lines on the one hand, and calls for a rethink of Grice's
overall theory of meaning on the other hand.

The thesis also provides a comprehensive description of pragmatic markers
in Chinese, a task that has hitherto not been undertaken. This offers some
empirical support for the theoretical position outlined in the first half of the
thesis. It is proposed that pragmatic markers be understood as
conventional implicature potentials, which are substantiated into full
conventional implicatures on given occasions of use. This approach differs
substantially from those in the contemporary literature.

From a theoretical point of view, the explication of the nature of
conventional implicature provides implications for an understanding of the
connections between linguistic meaning and human thought. Empirically,
the description and analysis of Chinese pragmatic markers can in principle
be applied to similar expressions in other languages.



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