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The Importance of Presupposition

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Chapter Summary

Given what we are beginning to understand about the ways in which presuppositions arise and the purposes they serve, it is hard to imagine how a natural language could exist without them. This chapter is devoted almost entirely to the computation of presuppositions. A presupposition theory consisting of the two connected components of presupposition computation and presupposition justification requires a general framework in which language interpretation takes the form of establishing first, on the basis of syntactic (and prosodic) information, 'logically transparent' representations of individual sentences, and then subjecting these representations to further semantic and/or pragmatic operations, which relate them to the context in which the represented sentences are being used. What is seen in the chapter suggests that at the level of semantics the range of structural ambiguities is very considerable as well, and significantly larger than some of us suspected.

Keywords:language; preliminary representations; presupposition



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