- Vagueness and linguistics
- Book title
- Vagueness: A Guide
- Pages (from-to)
- Dordrecht: Springer
- ISBN (electronic)
- Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science
- Volume (Serie)
- Document type
- Interfacultary Research Institutes
Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)
This chapter provides a (biased) overview of analyses of vagueness within linguistics. First, the nature of vagueness is discussed, and contrasted with notions such as ambiguity and context dependence. After that, some reasons are given that could perhaps explain why vagueness is such a pervasive phenomenon in natural language. This is followed with a review of some more or less standard linguistic analyses of gradable adjectives. The chapter is focussed on approaches that take comparison classes into account. Because comparative constructions are ideally formed in terms of gradable adjectives, comparative ordering relations are discussed as well. It is argued that one specific ordering relation is crucial for any analysis of vagueness that wants to capture the notion of ‘tolerance’: semi-orders. A lot of attention is given to contextuallist’ approaches that want to account for the Sorites paradox, because these approaches are most popular within linguistics. In the final main section, the chapter discusses what some people have called ‘loose talk’. The main issue here is whether with loose use of language we say something that is strictly speaking false, but true enough in the particular conversational setting, or true, because the conversational setting loosens the requirements for a sentence to be true.
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