MLC Seminar

Speaker: Leïla Bussière
Title: Yes, but No – a speech act account of the adversative marker ‘but’
Time: 16:30 - 18:00
Location: Online, via Zoom

Please note that the seminar will start at 16:30 (30 minutes later than the usual timeslot).


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Abstract. Speakers use the adversative marker ‘but’ in widely different ways, to express parallels, contrasts, denial of expectations, corrections, etc. The two traditions that aim to account for these uses of ‘but’ in a unified manner, formal contrast and inferential accounts, posit that some uses of ‘but’ are paradigmatic, and derive the others by means of pragmatic processing.

Formal and inferential traditions agree that the contribution of adversative markers is characterized by the introduction of a positive-negative polarity. I suggest that analyzing this polarity in terms of speech acts (assertion-rejection) sheds light on the variety of uses of ‘but’ and provides the needed restrictions on available contexts. Thus, I streamline the kind of pragmatic processing involved in assessing the felicity of but-sentences.