Relationship between syntactic semantics and pragmatics truth

relationship between syntactic semantics and pragmatics truth

The distinction between semantics and pragmatics is easier to apply than to explain. I will speak indifferently of a sentence's truth condition, its truth- conditional semantic reference and speaker's reference to show that the difference. lexical semantics looks at relations between words in the lexicon Syntax. 4. Semantics. 5. Pragmatics. ➣ Semantics could be autonomous or integrated with other . Analytic truth Truth follows from meaning relations within the sentence. Semantics vs pragmatics Introduction Person deixis is ”semantic” in that it the meaning and truth of linguistic expressions outside their context of use, and At this point, the difference between what would be identified as ”semantic.

There are two sorts of contextual information, one much more restricted in scope and limited in role than the other. Information that plays the limited role of combining with linguistic information to determine content in the sense of fixing it is restricted to a short list of variables, such as the identity of the speaker and the hearer and the time and place of an utterance. Contextual information in the broad sense is anything that the hearer is to take into account to determine in the sense of ascertain the speaker's communicative intention.

It is often said that what a speaker means "depends on context," is "determined by context" or is "a matter of context," but this is not narrow context in the semantically relevant sense discussed above.

When it is said that "Context makes it clear that In this broad, pragmatic sense, which is also relevant to whether the speech act is being performed successfully and felicitiously, context does not literally determine content. So not just any sort of context variability is semantic. The variability must be provided for by lexical meaning and sentence grammar. An important complication here is that there are many indicative sentences that do not express complete propositions even relative to a context.

Though syntactically complete, they are semantically incomplete Bach a, b. Here are some straightforward examples given as the grammatical member of a minimal pair: In each case, even though the verb lacks the complement that a similar verb requires, the sentence is syntactically complete. But the sentence is not semantically complete and the hearer must infer some completing material, e.

A pragmatic process of completion is required to arrive at a full proposition, at something with a determinate truth condition. These cases are also counterexamples to the truth-conditional conception of semantics. There is no theoretical basis for denying their semantic incompleteness by inventing hidden syntactic slots that must be filled in order for a complete proposition to be expressed.

Rather, we must just acknowledge the fact that some sentences are semantically incomplete and not just in need semantic values, as with indexicals and that understanding utterances of them requires pragmatic supplementation. There there is the case of sentences which, strictly and literally, express an unrestricted proposition but are typically used to convey something more specific: I haven't taken a bath [today].

Nobody [important] goes there any more because it is too crowded. Abe didn't have sex and [thereby] get infected; he got infected and [then] had sex.

relationship between syntactic semantics and pragmatics truth

It is sometimes argued that because such sentences are standardly used without the bracketed material but such material is understood anyway, this material enters into what is said by the utterance, into its explicit content Sperber and WilsonRecanati However, this material is not uttered and does not correspond to anything in the syntactic structure of the uttered sentence even as an empty category in the sense of GB theory.

So it is not explicit. It is not implied by what is said but that does not make it explicit either- it is implicit in what said. Such utterances are understood by way of a pragmatic process of expansion. Expansion, like completion, is a process required for the recognition of what I call "conversational implicitures," as opposed to Gricean implic-a-tures Bach a, b.

We have seen that the various traditional ways of formulating the semantics-pragmatics distinction either leave something out or draw the line at the wrong place.

This is similar to what Levinsonpp. We need a better formulation. Otherwise, we will be left with what Hornp. It needs to accommodate the following facts, that: Semantic information about sentences is part of sentence grammar, and it includes information about expressions whose meanings are relevant to use rather than to truth conditions.

Linguistically encoded information can pertain to how the present utterance relates to the previous, to the topic of the present utterance, or to what the speaker is doing. That there are these sorts of linguistically encoded information shows that the business of sentence semantics cannot be confined to giving the proposition it expresses.

Sentences can do more than express propositions. Also, as we have seen, there are sentences which do less than express propositions, because they are semantically incomplete. Pragmatic information concerns facts relevant to making sense of a speaker's utterance of a sentence or other expression.

The hearer thereby seeks to identify the speaker's intention in making the utterance. In effect the hearer seeks to explain the fact that the speaker said what he said, in the way he said it. Because the intention is communicative, the hearer's task of identifying it is driven partly by the assumption that the speaker intends him to do this. The speaker succeeds in communicating if the hearer identifies his intention in this way, for communicative intentions are intentions whose "fulfillment consists in their recognition" Bach and Harnishp.

Pragmatics is concerned with whatever information is relevant, over and above the linguistic properties of a sentence, to understanding its utterance. Consider some examples involving pronouns. There is no semantic basis for interpreting the pronouns one way in Ann told Betty that she wanted to borrow her car.

The hearer relies on extralinguistic information to interpret one utterance one way and the other in the opposite way. The so-called "E-type" pronoun in Most philosophers who have written a book think it is brilliant. In none of these cases is there any semantic requirement that the pronoun be interpreted in a certain way.

The explanation for the preferred interpretation is pragmatic. As part of linguistics and philosophy of language, pragmatics does not provide detailed explanations of how interpretation works in actual practice. This is a problem for cognitive and social psychology. For this reason it seems futile for linguists to seek a formal pragmatics. The task of explaining how utterances change context, for example, or how they exploit context, is not a job for linguistic theory by itself.

The task is impossible without introducing general considerations about human reasoning and rational communication. Similarly, it is unreasonable to complain that theories like Grice's account of conversational implicature provide no algorithm for conversational inference, so that, when applied to particular cases they simply pull implicatures out of a hat see Sperber and WilsonKempsonDavies This is not just a problem for Grice's theory.

At any rate, whereas semantic information is grammatically associated with the linguistic material uttered, pragmatic information arises only in relation to the act of uttering that material.

Semantics/pragmatics | Benedicte Irgens -

In fact, a stony silence can impart pragmatic information and thereby communicate something. Whereas semantic information is encoded in what is uttered, pragmatic information is generated by the act of uttering it. No sentence encodes the fact that it is being uttered.

Even the sentence 'I am speaking' is not analytic. The act of producing the utterance exploits the information encoded but by its very performance creates new information. That information, combined with the information encoded, provides the basis for the hearer's identification of the speaker's communicative intention.

Contextual information is relevant to the hearer's inference only insofar as it can reasonably be taken as intended to be taken into account, and that requires the supposition that the speaker is producing the utterance with the intention that it be taken into account. In contrast, the encoded information provides the input to the hearer's inference in any context.

Challenges I foresee three main challenges to the semantics-pragmatics distinction, at least as it has been drawn here. They would contend that our formulation rests on one or another false assumption, 1 that semantics is autonomous from pragmatics, 2 that literal meaning is a viable notion, and 3 that communication involves Gricean reflexive intentions.

relationship between syntactic semantics and pragmatics truth

In reply, I will suggest that each challenge identifies certain empirical complications for the application of the semantics-pragmatics distinction but does not undermine the distinction itself. For this reason, defending those assumptions against these challenges will help clarify the distinction. Against semantic autonomy Occasionally it is claimed that pragmatics somehow impinges on semantics. Consider, for example, that words are often used in creative ways that depart from any of their conventional meanings, e.

Utterances of sentences like Chicago always votes Democrat. Philosophy has a tenure-track opening. John was so thirsty he drank three mugs. In such cases the sentence possesses no meaning other than its usual conventional meaning s -it just is not being used in accordance with its meaning s. Whereas the difference between Josh played his favorite violin yesterday. What ordinarily counts as finishing a newspaper, a letter, or a meal varies from one case to another.

Typically, you finish reading a newspaper, finish reading or writing a letter, and finish cooking or eating a meal. It seems to be a matter of semantics that verbs like 'start' and 'finish' are understood as having a verb in gerundive form in its complement, but it is a pragmatic matter which verb that is.

What Makes a Sentence True or False? Predicate Logic

The situation is similar with 'enjoy' and 'want' in the other examples above. Taken by themelves, these sentences are semantically incomplete in the sense described earlier. This does not mean, however, that the pragmatic processes required for understanding utterances of them somehow impinges upon their semantics. Nor is this shown, as Recanatihas argued, by the fact that the completion is accomplished before the entire sentence is processed.

The semantics-pragmatics distinction is concerned with the information available to the hearer, not with its real-time, online processing, which, it may be granted, is far from sequential. One of his examples is: To have a child and get married is worse than getting married and having a child. Since the alternatives here are semantically equivalent, given the logical conjunction reading of 'and,' how can we explain the force of an utterance of this sentence?

Gazdar thinks that the correct pragmatic explanation has semantic import. However, as we saw earlier with a similar example, the proper pragmatic explanation appeals to the process of expansion, which has no semantic repercussions. It requires merely the supposition that the sentence is not being used with its strict, conventional meaning. On the expansion story, this follows from the fact that its utterance would normally be understood as including two implicit occurrences of the word 'then.

However, this example may be disposed of in Gricean fashion. For if the utterance of 'Inmates may smoke or drink' is a permission, presumably it is a permission that can be complied with. The inmates can only be expected to interpret it in such a way that they can determine what they are permitted to do. If its import were either to permit smoking or to permit drinking without specifying which, there would be no way for an inmate to know how to comply with it. Against literal meaning In formulating the semantics-pragmatics distinction, I have made no attempt to characterize the job of semantics.

But as we have seen, there is more for a semantic theory of a language to do than to give a compositional account of the truth conditions of or the proposition expressed by each sentence, as a function of its syntactic structure and the semantic values of its constituents.

But it would seem that the semantics-pragmatics distinction as formulated presupposes a well-defined level of lexical semantics and a viable distinction between literal and nonliteral meaning.

There are several possible reasons for doubting that there is such a level. I am not referring here to general skepticism about linguistic meaning, based on behaviorism about language use. Nor am I referring to doubts about linguistic meaning based on the familiar observation that most words are impossible to define, at least in terms of singly necessary and jointly sufficient conditions of application, and are vague or open-textured.

These platitudes show not that Wittgenstein and Quine were right about linguistic meaning but only that it is not what philosophers used to think it to be. The two arguments I want to consider claim that the notion of literal meaning required by the semantics-pragmatics distinction cannot do justice to the general context-dependence of language.

One such argument is based on polysemy, as exemplified by the adjectives 'sad,' 'long,' and 'dangerous' as they occur in the following phrases: The argument is that since this variation in import is not due to ambiguity, it must have a pragmatic explanation. However, there is an alternative possibility, namely that polysemy involves what Pustejovsky calls "co-compositionality": I do not endorse Pustejovsky's ambitious theory of how this works, but certainly it is an improvement over what he calls "sense enumeration lexicons"p.

The relevant point here is that the phenomenon seems too systematic to be relegated to pragmatics. It does not justify the claim that pragmatics impinges on semantics. The other argument relies on the observation that natural language is context-sensitive through and through. Contrary to the Gricean picture, it is argued, understanding an utterance is not just a matter of knowing the conventional meaning of what is uttered and, as necessary, resolving ambiguities, determining references, and distinguishing what is implicated from what is said.

From this it is inferred that, even leaving aside disambiguation and reference fixing, there is often a pragmatic element in what is said, which, therefore, is not determined by the semantics of what is uttered. The general context-dependence of "interpretations" of utterances is supposed to show that what is said is not a purely semantic matter KempsonRecanati The following quotes express the rather narrow, linguistic demarcation described above: Pragmatics is the study of language which focuses attention on the users and the context of language use rather than on reference, truth, or grammar.

The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, He describes but does not endorse literalism as a position where the boundary between semantics and pragmatics is drawn in the following way: Semantics deals with the literal meaning of words and sentences as determined by the rules of the language, while pragmatics deals with what users of the language mean by their utterances of words or sentences In ideal cases of linguistic communication, the speaker means exactly what she says, and no more is required to understand the speech act than a correct understanding of the sentence uttered in performing it.

On this view, semantic meaning or sentence meaning, literal meaning is a question of rules, while pragmatic meaning or speaker meaning, including implicatures is a question of intentions. To rephrase, semantics is concerned with the linguistic code itself and the meaning of sentences generated by its 5 grammar type meaningwhile pragmatics is concerned with the use of that code, of what speakers intend when they use the code to produce utterances in context token meaning.

Literalism is highly reminiscent of the generative definition, but has no reference to competence and performance, and is not concerned with the demarcation of linguistics as a discipline. What tends to be lacking in the philosophical discussions, however, is a cross- linguistic perspective, and reference to other languages than the major European ones, typically English.

Among the many participants in the modern discussions we find e. All the following are possible: A too narrow definition of semantics thus makes even literal translation impossible. Another related problem is the concept of competence, which is aligned with semantics on the literalist view and therefore correspondingly narrow.

Knowing a language is knowing those sentences that are generated by the grammar, rather than knowing how to interpret them in context. Kept this narrow, the concept of competence becomes absurd: If you know the grammar that generates sentences in a language, including the mapping of syntactic and semantic structures etc, but you do not know how to interpret instances of sentences when they are uttered, does it then make any sense to say that you have competence in that language?

I wish to emphasize, however, that this does not necessitate a complete abolishment of the distinction between competence and performance, but merely an expansion of the notion of competence: Knowing how to use something is also a sort of competence, but it is still distinct from actually using it.

Knowing how is not the same as doing. Consider the following examples: The sentences all belong to the linguistic code of English, and they are all meaningful, also without any explicated context or reference to speaker intentions.

According to literalism they differ in their semantics, not pragmatics. However, the sentences have meanings that do differ from one another, but which are related not to external objects and actions, but to the discourse context and to the mental states of the speaker and the addressee.

In example 6the speaker believes that the dog chased the cat, but he is not completely certain, so he tries to get the addressee to confirm his belief. Since these are meanings that do not relate to the external world of dogs, cats, and chasing, I shall label them pragmatic meanings. Note that pragmatic meanings are conventionalized and form part of the shared language code.

In many languages, interrogatives are used not only to form questions but also mands. According to literalism, the sentence Could you lend me your pen?

Non-conventionalized pragmatic meanings, on the other hand, need not be constrained by sentence meaning at all - it is perfectly possible to create a context where 7 could imply 8: Linguistic rules are institutional facts determined by social conventions that are subject to change, not by some eternal, natural law.

In other words, if a majority of the users of a language start using a linguistic form in a new and different way from before, the meaning of the form consequently changes too. The two solutions are similar and mainly a matter of terminological preference. This is an alternative to literalism and in line with the first of my two solutions.

In other words, there is a relationship between situations, not sentences. The other solution is to expand the notion of competence like in the first solutionbut not that of semantics, and rather placing semantics and pragmatics next to eachother as linguistically coded, gradual phenomena within the confines of linguistic communicative competence. Pragmatics is then a part of linguistics proper, and pragmatic aspects of a language form part of what a student of a foreign language must learn to use in order to achieve linguistic competence in the target language.

I have chosen the second solution in this thesis. This allows me to stay focused on linguistic coding and simultaneously to stay true to the original philosophical trichotomy in 2. In order to crack a natural language code, one must observe its usage. Interestingly, this solution resonnates well with recent trends in foreign language education, specifically ESL English as a second language.

One influential contributor to the field is Freeman-Larsen, who writes She describes how after that, the pendulum has swung in the usage-oriented direction, with methods such as Community Language learning, Suggestopedia and Communicative Approach. In both cases, grammar rules and their use are seen as independent of each other, and one is considered as primary to the other in the learning process.

Rather than letting the pendulum swing back and forth, she suggests attempting balance by introducing a widened concept of grammar. The interconnectedness between the domains straddled by this generalized concept of grammar is illustrated with the following pie chart: This is precisely the understanding of grammar that I adhere to in this thesis, whose questions stem precisely from experiences in the foreign language classroom.

A foreign language student needs to learn to understand not only the meaning of sentences in the target language, but also conventionalized aspects of their use in particular contexts. He may carry a specific intention that he wishes to give an expression in the target language, and needs to learn 13 how this can be done so that the intention is conveyed as accurately as possible, using existing conventions.

To the foreign language teacher, of course, it is first and foremost the linguistic conventions of the object language that are in focus, irrespective of where any demarcation line between semantics and pragmatics is drawn or with the precise delineation of modern linguistics as a science. What unites them is the view of the structure of natural language as determined by its main function: According to Halliday Halliday explicitly does not rely on the philosophical trichotomy between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics the word pragmatics is not even listed in the indexbut distinguishes between semantics, grammar5 and phonology.

This is consistent with the first solution in 2.

The Semantics-Pragmatics Distinction

It is important, therefore, to clarify how semantics and pragmatics are related to eachother in these two approaches. This is in fact very close to the second alternative to literalism outlined above, where I placed semantics and pragmatics next to eachother as linguistically coded, gradual phenomena within the confines of communicative competence.

Semantics is concerned with the relation of linguistic forms to the objects to which they are applicable, while pragmatics is concerned with the relation of linguistic forms to interpreters. Still, the following quote indicates how he applies the distinction: All the 3 functional approaches mentioned above thus represent alternatives to literalism, but differ in terms of loyalty to the original trichotomy. They must be kept theoretically distinct, but interact in intricate ways in language.

The concepts syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic are here in accordance with the original definition as outlined in 2. Syntactic roles are always defined in relation to verbs, but they are extremely general categories in that they relate not to specific verbs, but to the whole class of verbs predicates. The actual morpho- syntactic manifestation of syntactic roles varies across languages. In English, subjects and objects are morphologically distinct only in some pronominal forms nominative vs accusative, e.