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Discourse Analysis 2011 PRESUPPOSITIONS. Introduction “to some degree Justice Stewart’s comment about pornography holds here: we all recognize it [the.

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Presentation on theme: "Discourse Analysis 2011 PRESUPPOSITIONS. Introduction “to some degree Justice Stewart’s comment about pornography holds here: we all recognize it [the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Discourse Analysis 2011 PRESUPPOSITIONS

2 Introduction “to some degree Justice Stewart’s comment about pornography holds here: we all recognize it [the presupposition relation] when we see it [but] we can’t say exactly what it is” S. Kripke 1990: ‘Presupposition and Anaphora: Remarks on the Formulation of the Projection Problem’, Manuscript, Princeton University.

3 The phenomenon The king of France is bald. >>There is a king of France John knows that Baird invented television. >> Baird invented television John regrets that he said the unsayable. >> John has said the unsayable Mary stopped beating her boyfriend. >> Mary has been beating her boyfriend. The boy cried again. >> The boy cried before.

4 The phenomenon John managed to give up smoking. >> John tried to give up smoking After she shot to stardom in a romance film, Jane married a millionaire entrepreneur. >> Jane shot to stardom in a romance film It was Baird who invented television. >> someone invented television Julius is a bachelor. >> Julius is an adult male. I have written to every headmaster in Rochdale. >> There are headmasters in Rochdale

5 The phenomenon The author is Julius Seidensticker. >> Julius Seidensticker exists HE set me free >> somebody set me free presupposition trigger

6 Some trigger terminology exampleterminology the king of France definite descriptions to know(epistemic) factives to regret(emotive) factives to stopaspectual predicates againiteratives to manageimplicative predicates after...temporal clauses It was... whocleft sentences everyquantifiers bachelorspecial restricted predicates Julius Seidenstickernames HEintonation

7 Exercises What presuppositions do the following constructions give rise to? -> List them, indicate what the presupposition trigger is and try to categorize the trigger in one of the categories we have established. -> You can leave aside the presuppositions triggered by proper names. exercise 1, p.91: (i)-(x)

8 Exercises The burglar realized that he had been filmed on closed circuit television. >> there was a burglar >> the burglar had been filmed on CCTV definite description epistemic factive the burglar realized John forgot to do the washing up. >> there were things to be washed up >> John intended to / had to do the washing up definite description implicative predicate the washing up forgot

9 Exercises John hasn’t driven a car since he had the accident. >> J had the accident >> J drove a car before the accident temporal clausesince... is this a presupposition or an implicature? >> there was an accident definite descriptionthe accident “stop” “maxim of quantity”

10 Exercises Professor Huang was glad that he had solved one of evolution’s great mysteries. >> evolution has mysteries quantifierone of >> Professor Huang solved one of evolution’s great mysteries. emotive factivewas glad John isn’t off cigarettes again. (=He’s smoking again.) >> John quit non-smoking before. iterativeagain

11 Exercises It wasn’t John who moved to Spain. >> someone moved to Spaincleft sentenceit was... who Susan discovered that her husband was having an affair. >> Susan has a husband >> her husband was having an affair definite description epistemic factive her husband discovered Mary started emptying the shopping bags. >> there were shopping bags >> Mary wasn’t emptying them before definite description aspectual predicates the sh. bags start

12 Exercises It’s odd that John doesn’t know how to telnet. >> John doesn’t know how to telnetemotive factiveit’s odd that “Telnet is a network protocol used on the Internet or local area networks to provide a bidirectional interactive text-oriented communications facility using a virtual terminal connection.” Jane never remarried. >> Jane was married beforeimplicative predicateremarried

13 From facts to theory > We have identified a phenomenon > We have tentatively called it presupposition > We have located (some of the) linguistic triggers for it. Next step: Define what we have found...

14 A semantic definition

15 One sentence presupposes another iff whenever the first sentence is true, the second is true, and whenever the negation of the first sentence is true, the second sentence is true. (based on Strawson 1950) The king of France is bald.  There is a king of France The king of France isn’t bald.  There is a king of France The king of France is bald / The king of France isn’t bald presuppose that there is a king of France.

16 Probing the definition: a thought experiment Preliminary: There is a king of France Can There is a king of France be false? YES! Propositions can be true or false, even if they are presupposed.

17 Probing the definition: a thought experiment Preliminary: the truth table of logical entailment If the weather is nice tomorrow, we’ll cancel class. p q p q false true false true pqpq false true For p  q to hold and for q to be false, p has to be false as well.

18 Probing the definition: a thought experiment Reformulation in symbols p >> q iff p  q~p  q AND Can q be false? NO! If p  q holds, q can only be false if p is false If ~p  q holds, q can only be false if ~p is false... but we know that ~p  q... but we know that if ~p is false p holds and that p  q

19 Probing the definition: a thought experiment Conclusion on the definition of presuppositions we have now only propositions that are necessarily true can be presupposed Problem a proposition like There is a king of France can be true or false

20 Probing the definition: a thought experiment Summary We have shown that the definition of presuppositions we started out with predicts that only propositions that are necessarily true can be presupposed. This runs counter to our intuitions for standard cases like the presupposition There is a king of France for The king of France is bald. How to solve this problem? Up till now we have assumed that propositions can only be true or false. We can bypass the problem by assuming that propositions cannot only be true and false but also undefined. Crucially, p and ~p should become undefined if q turns out to be false.

21 Probing the definition: the role of negation One sentence presupposes another iff whenever the first sentence is true, the second is true, and whenever the negation of the first sentence is true, the second sentence is true. Problem 1 Some sentences are hard to negate... Long live the king of France! Bring the digital camera here. Fred kissed Betty too. *Don’t long live the king of France! Don’t bring the digital camera here. ??Fred didn’t kiss Betty too.

22 Probing the definition: the role of negation Problem 2 Sometimes presuppositions don’t behave in the way we would expect them too. The king of France isn’t bald... The king of France is bald... #...there ISN’T any king of France....there ISN’T any king of France. Examples like these are highly problematic for a semantic analysis of presupposition: they can only be accounted for under the assumption that there are two kinds of negation – one that cancels presuppositions and one that doesn’t. This assumption is highly unattractive.

23 A semantic definition: conclusion > We have seen that – in order to be tenable – the definition has to allow for propositions to be not only true and false but also undefined. > We have seen that using negation as a defining criterion might be too restrictive: we would miss out on fairly straightforward cases of presuppositions. > We have seen that negation is ambiguous between a presupposition preserving and a presupposition cancelling interpretation. This is highly unattractive, especially given that negation is at the heart of the definition.

24 A pragmatic definition

25 A presupposition associated with a sentence is a condition that a speaker would normally expect to hold in the common ground between discourse participants when that sentence is uttered.

26 A pragmatic definition A presupposition associated with a sentence is a condition that a speaker would normally expect to hold in the common ground between discourse participants when that sentence is uttered. > If there is any reason to assume that the condition doesn’t hold, the presupposition is cancelled. > Position most famously defended by Gazdar (1979).

27 Cancelling presuppositions: the procedure > The cancellation procedure: Implicatures and entailments as well as background assumptions and contextual factors defeat potential presuppositions, so a hearer adds to his or her commitments only those presuppositions that are compatible with all background assumptions, contextual factors and all implicatures and entailments. All remaining potential presuppositions are cancelled. All presuppositions start life as potential presuppositions.

28 Cancelling presuppositions: examples John hasn’t discovered that Angola is in Asia. >> Angola is in Asiadiscoveredepistemic factive The potential presupposition that Angola is an Asian country runs agains our real-world knowledge that Angola is an African country. This is why this potential presupposition gets cancelled.

29 Cancelling presuppositions: examples John: I don’t have a car Mary: So at least you don’t need to worry about where to park your car. The potential presupposition that John has a car is in contradiction to the assertion that has already been put in the context. This is why this potential presupposition doesn’t become a real one. >> John has a car.yourdefinite description

30 Cancelling presuppositions: examples John doesn’t know that Mary is a hay fever sufferer: she isn’t. The potential presupposition that Mary is a hay fever sufferer runs against the entailment that Mary is not a hay fever sufferer and gets cancelled for this reason. >> M is a hay fever suffererknowepistemic factive

31 Cancelling presuppositions: examples If I realize later that I haven’t told the truth, I will confess it to everyone. This sentence has a conversational implicature according to which the speaker doesn’t know whether he has told the truth or not. This implicature is incompatible with the potential presupposition that he hasn’t told the truth. The latter therefore gets cancelled. >> I haven’t told the truthrealizeepistemic factive

32 Cancelling presuppositions: exercises What potential presuppositions do the following constructions give rise to? -> List them, indicate what the presupposition trigger is and try to categorize the trigger in one of the categories we have established. exercise 4, p.92 -> Why are these presuppositions cancelled? Explain in your own words.

33 The End


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