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On the multidimensionality of natural language semantics and the myth of conventional implicature

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Natural language semantics is known to be multidimensional in the sense that linguistic utterances may convey different types of information at the same time, e.g. assertive meaning (aka at-issue meaning), presupposition, conversational implicature. In this talk we argue that what is called “conventional implicature” (aka “use-conditional meaning”) in the current literature since Christopher Potts’ seminal work (Potts 2005, McCready 2010, Gutzmann 2015, 2019) is not a homogenous class, and that the phenomena discussed under this rubric do not require a special compositional semantic theory of the kind that the authors cited here put forward. Instead, we claim that the relevant phenomena are analyzable in terms of at-issue meaning, presupposition, and a non-compositional kind of meaning, which we call “associative meaning” (cf. Leech 1981), and the category of conventional implicature in the sense intended by the above authors is dispensable.

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Linguistic Society series.

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