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English then and Norwegian da/ compared: a Relevance-theoretic account

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 May 2006

Thorstein Fretheim
Affiliation:
Department of Language and Communication Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway. E-mail: thorstein.fretheim@hf.ntnu.no
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Abstract

An analysis of the English adverb then is suggested, which treats it as ambiguous, encoding two distinct meanings, one of which is anaphoric and corresponds to the meaning of the Norwegian temporal adverb da, and the other is non-anaphoric and corresponds to the meaning of the Norwegian temporal adverb . The paper challenges the commonly made assumption that cases of supposed ambiguity which exist cross-linguistically might be better reanalyzed in terms of a univocal semantics and a range of pragmatic inferences, either as implicated meanings along Gricean lines or as the outcome of context-dependent inference at the explicit level of content, in keeping with the practice of adherents of Relevance Theory. Data from some other European languages and four African languages are examined and compared to the polar situations represented by English on the one hand and Norwegian on the other.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
2006 Cambridge University Press

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