Semantics and What is Said

In Alessandro Capone, Una Stojnic, Ernie Lepore, Denis Delfitto, Anne Reboul, Gaetano Fiorin, Kenneth A. Taylor, Jonathan Berg, Herbert L. Colston, Sanford C. Goldberg, Edoardo Lombardi Vallauri, Cliff Goddard, Anna Wierzbicka, Magdalena Sztencel, Sarah E. Duffy, Alessandra Falzone, Paola Pennisi, Péter Furkó, András Kertész, Ágnes Abuczki, Alessandra Giorgi, Sona Haroutyunian, Marina Folescu, Hiroko Itakura, John C. Wakefield, Hung Yuk Lee, Sumiyo Nishiguchi, Brian E. Butler, Douglas Robinson, Kobie van Krieken, José Sanders, Grazia Basile, Antonino Bucca, Edoardo Lombardi Vallauri & Kobie van Krieken (eds.), Indirect Reports and Pragmatics in the World Languages. Springer Verlag. pp. 21-38 (2018)
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Abstract

A once commonplace view is that only a semantic theory that interprets sentences of a language according to what their utterances intuitively say can be correct. The rationale is that only by requiring a tight connection between what a sentence means and what its users intuitively say can we explain why, normally, those linguistically competent with a language upon hearing its sentences uttered can discern what they say. More precisely, this approach ties the semantic content of a sentence to intuitions about “says that” reports. Cappelen and Lepore forcefully argued against this approach. But given their criticism, what constraints are there on a correct assignment of semantic conent to sentences of a language? Two choices are available regard: either give up the strategy of identifying semantic content by looking at indirect speech reports, or, conclude that the intuition about the connection between meaning and intuitions about indirect reports is basically on the right track, but needs to be further constrained. We will explore both strategies and argue that ultimately we should reject the intuitions about indirect reports as tests on semantic theory, and propose a more direct strategy for identifying semantic content.

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Author Profiles

Una Stojnic
Princeton University
Ernie LePore
Rutgers - New Brunswick

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