- Exhaustivity and intonation: a unified theory
- Award date
- 23 March 2017
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Interfacultary Research Institutes
Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)
This dissertation presents a precise, unified and explanatory theory of human conversation, centered on two broad phenomena: exhaustivity implications and intonational meaning. In a nutshell: (i) speakers have two types of communicative intentions, namely information sharing and attention sharing, (ii) these types of intentions ideally comply with a certain set of rationality criteria, or maxims, (iii) speakers of English and related languages use intonation, in particular so-called trailing tones and boundary tones, to indicate whether such compliance is achieved, and (iv) exhaustivity implications arise when this holds, at least, for the attention-sharing intention.
The research presented in this dissertation goes against a number of widespread assumptions in the field. The result is a perspective on conversation that enables new solutions to a broad range of well-known puzzles surrounding exhaustivity and intonation. Among these are the "symmetry problem", the "epistemic step" without a competence assumption, the role of informationally redundant disjuncts, the bias expressed by rising declaratives, the range of uses of rise-fall-rise intonation, the effects of different intonation contours in lists, and differences between questions with rising and falling intonation.
- ILLC dissertation series DS-2017-03
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