A formal treatment of explicature and the pragmatics of conditional statements

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

A formal treatment of explicature and the pragmatics of conditional statements


Author: Wong, Chun-wing Eddy
Title: A formal treatment of explicature and the pragmatics of conditional statements
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2007
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations.
Explication, Literary.
Conditionals (Logic)
Grammar, Comparative and general -- Conditionals.
Department: Dept. of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: 241 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2116783
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/604
Abstract: In this thesis, we argue for a situation-theoretic regularity model of communication. Based on this conception of communication, we bring the relevance-theoretic concept of explicature (the best hypothesis of explicit speaker meaning) to fit this regularity model, thus paving the way for formalization. A formalism is then built for the explicating process using the channel model developed in Barwise & Seligman (1997) Information Flow: The Logic of Distributed System, which finally leads to a formal definition of explicature. After this formal part, the thesis turns to the pragmatics of conditional statements. In contrast with the traditional truth-conditional approaches, we argue for a regularity approach to the semantics of conditionals and develop an explicature analysis for their pragmatics. Upon this analysis, background conditions associated with conditionals and world knowledge of the hearer are found to be two crucial sources of contextual information to the comprehension of conditional statements because they frequently participate in the identification of their explicatures. We demonstrate that an explicature analysis for conditional statements is adequate for the resolution of semantic paradoxes arising from the material conditional theory. We also show that the phenomenon of conditional perfection favors an explicature analysis rather than Gricean implicature analyses.

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