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The semantics and pragmatics of misrepresentation in English - a relevance-theoretic approach

Noh, E.-J.; (1998) The semantics and pragmatics of misrepresentation in English - a relevance-theoretic approach. Doctoral thesis, University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis deals with the nature of metarepresentation in language. It proposes linguistic-semantic and pragmatic analyses of a variety of metarepresentational expressions in English, using the framework of relevance theory (Sperber and Wilson 1986/1995). The main aim is to deepen the relevance-theoretic analysis of metarepresentation, to apply it to a range of data which have not been previously analysed in this framework, and to compare the resulting account with alternative semantic and pragmatic accounts. Chapter 1 looks at various types of quotation (including mention, reported speech and thought, and mixed quotation) and surveys some of the problems encountered by traditional and more recent alternative accounts; the chief problem being that they either do not acknowledge the range and variety of semantic indeterminacies in quotation, or do not provide an adequate account of how these indeterminacies are resolved during utterance comprehension. Chapter 2 introduces relevance theory and shows how the comprehension strategy it provides can be used to resolve the various indeterminacies in quotation. It also shows how the relevance-theoretic notion of metarepresentation (representation by resemblance) can be applied not only to paradigmatic cases of direct and indirect quotation, but also to a range of other cases involving the exploitation of linguistic or conceptual resemblances. What is common to all these cases is that a representation is used with a guarantee of faithfulness to some other representation, rather than truthfulness to some state of affairs. The claim that a metarepresentation can be faithful enough without being identical to the original is illustrated and explored. The remaining chapters extend the analysis to more complex and controversial cases. Chapter 3 looks at previous accounts of metalinguistic negation, and develops a relevance-theoretic account whose linguistic-semantic and pragmatic properties are investigated and compared with previous relevance-theoretic accounts. Chapter 4 looks at previous treatments of echo questions, both inside and outside relevance theory and extends the relevance-theoretic analysis to deal with some standard and non-standard types of echoic question. Chapter 5 deals with a variety of metarepresentational conditionals, and develops a relevance-theoretic account, comparing it with previous accounts. My conclusion is that the relevance-theoretic approach can yield analyses that are better justified than previous accounts on both descriptive and explanatory grounds.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:The semantics and pragmatics of misrepresentation in English - a relevance-theoretic approach
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
Additional information:Thesis digitised by British Library EThOS
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Psychology and Language Sciences (Division of)

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