First, we examine the notions of conversational implicature and exhaustive interpretation, which are concerned with information that can be conveyed by speakers in uttering a sentence above and beyond the informative content of the sentence as determined by the relevant linguistic conventions. For instance, if I say that I saw some of Hitchcock’s movies, I typically imply that I didn’t see all of them, although this does not follow from the linguistic conventions concerning the string of words that I uttered.
Second, we examine the notion of presuppositions, which is not concerned with the information that is provided in uttering a sentence, but rather with the information that is assumed to be common knowledge among the conversational participants in order for the utterance to be felicitous to begin with. For instance, if I say that I will bring my son to the picknick, I act as if I take it to be common knowledge that I have a son.
Finally, we examine the framework of inquisitive semantics, where sentence meanings do not only capture informative content but also inquisitive content. This logical framework is particularly useful for the analysis of conversation because, evidently, sentences are not only used in conversations to provide information, but just as much to request information from other participants.
Assignments and grading
- There will be 3 homework assignments, each will make up 30% of the grade.
- Students are required to email a question or comment about the reading for each class to the instructors at least 18 hours before the class takes place. Fulfilling this requirement makes up the remaining 10% of the grade. Please direct your email to Floris Roelofsen, Ivano Ciardelli, Jeroen Groenendijk, and Matthijs Westera, and start the subject with [LC2013-X], where X is the number of the class. Please formulate your question or comment clearly and concisely.