Presentation on theme: "Presupposition Module 2 2008-9 Lesson 7. What is presupposition? Speakers/writers design their messages using assumptions about what listeners already."— Presentation transcript:
Presupposition Module 2 2008-9 Lesson 7
What is presupposition? Speakers/writers design their messages using assumptions about what listeners already know. What is presupposed in this text? - The baby cried - The mummy picked it up
Why does presupposition exist? Because it enables us to communicate succinctly. It is much easier to say … John doesn’t write any more …than it is to say ….. A person we both know and agree that his name is John, and who knows how to write, and who is able to write poetry, wrote poetry in some past time, and know he does not write poetry
When did you stop smoking? The speaker presupposes two things: - You used to smoke - You have stopped smoking What is presupposed in these sentences? - John doesn’t write poems anymore - Would you like another beer?
Have you stopped beating your wife? Lawyers often use questions like this to embarrass a defendant. Why is it a difficult question to answer?
Presupposition in Alice in Wonderland “Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly. “I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.” “You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “It’s very easy to take more than nothing.”
Markers of given and new information in text and speech In speech and writing we signal to the listener/reader the kind of information which we presume that they know or do not know - Indefinite expressions - Definite expressions
Indefinite expressions in text Indefinite expressions are used when individuals are not known to the reader - A man came down the road First mention of the man
Definite expressions in text Definite expressions are used when individuals are KNOWN to the reader. But how are they known? -Queen Elizabeth asked the chaplain to arrange it world knowledgealready mentioned in the text
The difference between definite and indefinite expressions in text Are definite or indefinite expressions used and why? 1. A salesman with a black beard came to see me last week 2. The salesman came back again yesterday 3. He came back again yesterday The definite expressions in 2. And 3. are used because the salesman has already been mentioned in 1.
Indefinite expressions in text - when and why ? - A dissident Spanish priestfirst mention - A man armed with a bayonetfirst mention - Investigating magistratesfirst mention
Definite expressions in text - when and why? - the Popeworld knowledge (so already known) - herefers back to Pope (so already known) - the policeinference from arrested (so already known) - herefers back to Fernandez (so already known) - the assaultinference from attack (so already known)
Map game Palm treesIndefinitePlural A waterfallIndefiniteSing. The palm treesdefinitePlural The waterfalldefinitesingular Crocodilesindefiniteplural The crocodilesdefiniteplural
Swampindefinite A swampindefinite A palm beachindefinite
A riverindefinitefirst mention A bridgeindefinitefirst mention A big river indefinitefirst mention the bridge The river … the bridgedefinite a bridge
Definite and indefinite expressions in speech Speakers tend to use definite expressions when they believe information is mutually shared Speakers tend to use indefinite expressions when they believe information is not mutually shared