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May I Quote You on That?

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A guide to English grammar and usage for the twenty-first century, pairing grammar rules with interesting and humorous quotations from American popular culture.

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Academic Paper

Title: English Then and Norwegian Da/Så Compared: A relevance-theoretic account
Author: Thorstein Fretheim
Institution: Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Linguistic Field: Linguistic Theories; Semantics
Subject Language: English
Norwegian Bokmål
Abstract: An analysis of the English adverb then is suggested, which treats it as ambiguous, encoding two distinct meanings, one of which is anaphoric and corresponds to the meaning of the Norwegian temporal adverb da, and the other is non-anaphoric and corresponds to the meaning of the Norwegian temporal adverb så. The paper challenges the commonly made assumption that cases of supposed ambiguity which exist cross-linguistically might be better reanalyzed in terms of a univocal semantics and a range of pragmatic inferences, either as implicated meanings along Gricean lines or as the outcome of context-dependent inference at the explicit level of content, in keeping with the practice of adherents of Relevance Theory. Data from some other European languages and four African languages are examined and compared to the polar situations represented by English on the one hand and Norwegian on the other.


This article appears IN Nordic Journal of Linguistics Vol. 29, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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