The central aim of this study is to elucidate the nature of the semantics /
pragmatics distinction in both synchrony and diachrony. The author
proposes a definition of semantics and pragmatics that is orthogonal to the
question of truth-conditionality, and discusses the status of various types
of meaning with respect to this definition.
A corollary aim of the study is to propose an account of how and why
erstwhile pragmatically-determined elements of meaning may, in the course
of time, become semanticized. The nature, paths, and mechanisms of
diachronic sense changes of the relevant type, as well as the motivations
for them, are discussed in some detail.
The author combines insights from different sources, prominently
frame-based semantics, historical pragmatics, and Peircean semiotics, to
arrive at a model of linguistic meaning that is both synchronically and
diachronically dynamic, hence capable of integrating structure and usage.
As a case study, the synchronic uses and diachronic evolution of the
exceptionally polyfunctional French phasal adverbs déjà (‘already’), encore
(‘still/yet’), toujours (‘still’), and enfin (‘finally’) are analyzed in
some detail, with particular attention being paid to the semantic vs
pragmatic nature of the various uses of these items.
The book will be of interest to lexical semanticists, pragmaticians,
historical linguists, functional/cognitive linguists, discourse analysts,