Assessing the Informative uses of Presuppositions and their Pragmatic Values


 Previous research revealed that systematic linkages may be established between some intrinsic aspects of a presupposition and textual functions that it can perform more reliably. Using a lexical database with 19,500 entries, this work begins with an organic investigation of the semantics of presupposition triggers. The database was used to examine a corpus of roughly 200,000 tokens from a corpus of chat discussions, with the overall goal of examining probable pragmatic values within bidirectional interactions and confirming the effects on the audience and the negotiation of the presupposed content. Triggers are mostly noninformative in the corpus, maintaining information that all participants in the communication already know; however, depending on their different features, some of them are systematically associated with anaphora and textual cohesion, while others strengthen social conventions and stereotypes. Although they make up a small percentage of the total, informative uses are the most interesting, as the presupposed content corresponds to the ‘New’ in the Given/New dichotomy, resulting in a misalignment between what is actually implicit and what is given as such. This misalignment appears to be an error in just a few situations, and it correlates to a small number of reader reactions: to interpret the data, specific conditions in pragmatics and the social context must be questioned.

Author(s) Details:

Francesca Ferrucci,
Dipartimento di Scienze Umanistiche, della Comunicazione e del Turismo, (DISUCOM), Viterbo University, Via Santa Maria in Gradi, 4 – 01100 Viterbo (VT), Italy.

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