LINGUIST List 9.1603

Sat Nov 14 1998

Books: Semantics

Editor for this issue: Scott Fults <>

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  1. Damon Zucca, Pragmatics of Conditional Marking, Scott A. Schwenter

Message 1: Pragmatics of Conditional Marking, Scott A. Schwenter

Date: 11 Nov 98 13:41:25 -0500
From: Damon Zucca <>
Subject: Pragmatics of Conditional Marking, Scott A. Schwenter

Schwenter, Scott A.; Pragmatics of Conditional Marking: Implicature,
Scalarity, and Exclusivity; 0-8153-3309-9, cloth; pages 275, $ 63;
Garland Publishing; Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics

This study examines the meaning of prototypical conditional-sentence
markers like English if and Spanish si from a primarily pragmatic
perspective. It argues that the sense of "hypotheticality" often
associated with the encoded semantics of such markers is actually a
pragmatic conversational implicature that is cancelable in certain
discourse contexts. The analysis therefore redraws in radical fashion
the semantics-pragmatics boundary as it applies to the meaning of
conditional markers.

A number of key implications are presented in detail. First, it is
shown that "factual" if-clauses, typically considered anomalous
despite their frequent occurrence in many types of discourse, fall out
from the predictions made by the pragmatic view of conditional marker
meaning. Second, it is demonstrated that the "hypotheticality"
implicature interacts with the well-known implicature of conditional
perfection, and that this interaction allows one to predict when
"biconditional" readings of simple conditionals will and will not
arise. More generally, the model of meaning developed in this book
permits clear links to be made between conditionality and other
conceptual domains, such as adversativity and scalarity. These links
are examined in chapters 4 and 5 using declarative-sentence uses of
Spanish si as the empirical testing ground.

This book will be of interest to linguists working in semantics and
pragmatics, discourse analysis, and Hispanic linguistics. It will also
appeal to scholars interested in the interface between communication
and cognition.

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1998 Contributors

  • Addison Wesley Longman
  • Blackwell Publishers
  • Cambridge University Press
  • CSLI Publications
  • Edinburgh University Press
  • Garland Publishing
  • Holland Academic Graphics (HAG)
  • John Benjamins Publishing Company
  • Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.
  • MIT Press--Books Division
  • MIT Working Papers in Linguistics
  • Mouton de Gruyter
  • Oxford University Press
  • Francais Pratique
  • Hermes
  • Pacific Linguistics
  • Routledge
  • Summer Institute of Linguistics