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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: September 2012

7 - Grammar/pragmatics interfaces


Our main goal in chapter 7 is to present various concepts of the semantic/pragmatic interface level of ‘what is said.’ We first introduce the problems in defining such a basic-level meaning representation (section 7.1), and then discuss four proposals as to how to define the concept (sections 7.2–7.6). We reiterate the main conclusions of the book in section 7.7, briefly considering the possibility that ‘what is said’ is not only important for grammar/pragmatics interfaces during interaction, but also in processes in which pragmatics crosses over to become grammar.

The widening gap between ‘what is said’ and a basic-level meaning

Ideally, as a basic meaning level, ‘what is said’ should stand for (i) a complete truth-evaluable proposition, the speaker's basic intended meaning, which is, moreover, (ii) expressed explicitly. Conventional implicatures, although conventional, do not constitute part of ‘what is said,’ because they are neither explicit nor truth-conditional (but see section 7.5 below). Even Grice, however, realized that as rudimentary as his ‘what is said’ was, it could not be equated with pure linguistic meaning. This is why he proposed that ‘what is said’ is “closely related to the conventional meaning of the words (the sentence)” (Grice, 1989: 25, emphasis added).

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