Presumptive Meanings: The Theory of Generalized Conversational Implicature

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This is the first extended discussion of preferred interpretation in language understanding, integrating much of the best research in linguistic pragmatics from the last two decades.

When we speak, we mean more than we say. In this book Stephen C. Levinson explains some general processes that underlie presumptions in communication. This is the first extended discussion of preferred interpretation in language understanding, integrating much of the best research in linguistic pragmatics from the last two decades. Levinson outlines a theory of presumptive meanings, or preferred interpretations, governing the use of language, building on the idea of implicature developed by the philosopher H.P. Grice. Some of the indirect information carried by speech is presumed by default because it is carried by general principles, rather than inferred from specific assumptions about intention and context. Levinson examines this class of general pragmatic inferences in detail, showing how they apply to a wide range of linguistic constructions. This approach has radical consequences for how we think about language and communication.

 

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Contents

I
1
II
11
III
12
IV
21
V
27
VI
35
VIII
37
IX
38
XXXVIII
186
XXXIX
198
XL
199
XLI
205
XLII
210
XLIII
213
XLIV
217
XLV
225

X
39
XI
42
XII
45
XIII
49
XIV
54
XV
55
XVI
60
XVII
64
XVIII
71
XIX
73
XX
75
XXI
79
XXII
98
XXIII
104
XXIV
108
XXV
112
XXVI
122
XXVII
135
XXVIII
137
XXIX
153
XXX
165
XXXI
170
XXXII
172
XXXIII
174
XXXIV
177
XXXV
180
XXXVI
183
XXXVII
184
XLVI
230
XLVII
232
XLVIII
236
XLIX
243
L
248
LI
251
LII
256
LIII
259
LIV
261
LV
267
LVI
273
LVII
277
LVIII
280
LIX
285
LX
327
LXI
345
LXII
359
LXIII
361
LXIV
362
LXV
367
LXVI
368
LXVII
371
LXVIII
374
LXIX
379
LXX
425
LXXI
451
LXXII
457
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Page 14 - Make your contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged.
Page 74 - Make your contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged")
Page 135 - Under the category of Manner, which I understand as relating not (like the previous categories) to what is said but, rather, to how what is said is to be said, I include the supermaxim—"Be perspicuous"—and various maxims such as: 1. Avoid obscurity of expression 2. Avoid ambiguity. 3. Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity). 4. Be orderly.
Page 114 - I-Principle Speaker's maxim: the maxim of Minimization. "Say as little as necessary"; that is, produce the minimal linguistic information sufficient to achieve your communicational ends (bearing Q in mind). Recipient's corollary: the Enrichment Rule. Amplify the informational content of the speaker's utterance, by finding the most specific interpretation, up to what you judge to be the speaker's m-intended point,
Page 150 - Nothing is more natural than the prevalence of reduplication, in other words, the repetition of all or part of the radical element. The process is generally employed, with self-evident symbolism, to indicate such concepts as distribution, plurality, repetition, customary activity, increase of size, added intensity, continuance.
Page 12 - intended the utterance of x to produce some effect in an audience by means of the recognition of this intention
Page 14 - Try to make your contribution one that is true," specifically: "Do not say what you believe to be false" "Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence
Page 112 - It might be said that to be overinformative is not a transgression of the CP [Cooperative Principle] but merely a waste of time. However it might be answered that such overinformativeness may be confusing in that it is liable to raise side issues; and there may also be an indirect effect, in that
Page 17 - the speaker has failed to be specific in a way in which he might have been expected to be specific, with the consequence that it is likely to be assumed that he is not in a position to be specific
Page 136 - The M-Principle Speaker's maxim: Indicate an abnormal, nonstereotypical situation by using marked expressions that contrast with those you would use to describe the corresponding normal, stereotypical situation. Recipient's corollary: What is said in an abnormal way indicates an abnormal situation, or marked messages indicate marked situations, specifically: Where

About the author (2000)

Stephen C. Levinson is Director of the Language and Cognition Group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands.

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