Towards a Pragmatic Category of Conditionals

Elder, Chi-He and Jaszczolt, Kasia M (2016) Towards a Pragmatic Category of Conditionals. Journal of Pragmatics, 98. pp. 36-53. ISSN 0378-2166

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Abstract

In this paper, we present the benefits of regarding conditionality as a pragmatic phenomenon as compared with approaches based on the syntactic category of a conditional sentence. We propose a pragmatic category of conditionality and justify it using theoretical arguments supported with examples from our database collected from the International Corpus of English-GB. Next, we demonstrate how conditional utterances that pertain to a variety of syntactic constructions can be represented in Default Semantics, a contextualist, truth-conditional approach to utterance meaning. We identify six types of such constructions, using the dimensions of (i) primary vs. secondary meaning (PM/SM index) and (ii) meaning conveyed through sentence structure vs. meaning conveyed at the level of merger representation (WS/Σ index). It is concluded that in view of the diversity of constructions through which conditional thoughts are expressed, conditionality is best regarded as a pragmatic (and as such conceptual) category. Finally, we comment on the status of this claim as a potential semantic/pragmatic universal.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: conditionals,pragmatic category,radical contextualism,default semantics,language and linguistics,linguistics and language ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1200/1203
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 10 May 2016 12:00
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2020 00:51
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/58624
DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2016.04.013

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