Month: April 2023

Meeting on 04/27: Bill Lycan

We will meet on Thursday, April 27, 1:45-2:45 in Oak 338. Bill Lycan will present his ongoing work.

Explicature and Cancellability

Relevance theorists, most notably Robyn Carston, defend a notion they call “explicature,” that contrasts with mere conversational implicature in much the way that Grice’s “what is said” and semantic entailment do. But there is a puzzle: (i) As characterized, explicatures should not be cancellable in the way that conversational implicatures are. But (ii) in fact the standard examples of explicature are all cancellable, which you’d think is a serious objection to the Relevance theorists’ claim. Yet (iii) Carston not only grants but insists that explicatures are cancellable.

I try to solve that puzzle by pointing out something not often noticed, that “cancellable” is a relative term: cancellable without… what penalty? (And I believe that point is important independently of the explicature issue.)

Meeting on 04/20: Omar Agha

We will meet on Thursday, April 20, 1:45-2:45 in Oak 371 (note the untypical room). Our own Omar Agha will present his ongoing work.

Focus-driven QUD accommodation in plural definites

Kriz (2015) and other recent work has drawn much attention to non-maximal interpretations of plural definite noun phrases. In Kriz’s model, non-maximality is possible when the QUD makes the exceptions irrelevant.

I present some novel observations that motivate an amendment of this theory. I show that plural definite noun phrases that associate with focus sensitive operators display more extreme non-maximality than plural definites without focus. This is especially apparent in out-of-the-blue contexts, where no particular QUD is assumed.

I sketch the beginning of a pragmatic theory of these facts, in which the presence of focus drives the listener to accommodate a QUD that is focus congruent, which in turn licenses exception tolerance.