ICLC 5, K.U. Leuven, 9 July 2008
Meaning Merger:
An Object of Study for Contrastive
Semantics and Pragmatics?
Kasia M. Jaszczolt
University of Cambridge, U. K.
http://people.pwf.cam.ac.uk/kmj21
(1)
m3ae:r3i:I
Mary
kh2ian
write
n3iy3ai:
novel
2
(1)
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)
(f)
(g)
(h)
(i)
Mary wrote a novel.
Mary was writing a novel.
Mary started writing a novel but did not finish it.
Mary has written a novel.
Mary has been writing a novel.
Mary writes novels. / Mary is a novelist.
Mary is writing a novel.
Mary will write a novel.
Mary will be writing a novel.
Srioutai (2006: 45)
3
(2)
f3on
rain
t1ok
fall
(a)
(b)
It is raining. (default meaning)
It was raining. (possible intended meaning)
4
Object of study of contrastive semantics and pragmatics
5
Object of study of contrastive semantics and pragmatics
 Discourse meaning intended by Model Speaker and
recovered by Model Addressee (primary meaning)
6
Object of study of contrastive semantics and pragmatics
 Discourse meaning intended by Model Speaker and
recovered by Model Addressee (primary meaning)
Unit of analysis
7
Object of study of contrastive semantics and pragmatics
 Discourse meaning intended by Model Speaker and
recovered by Model Addressee (primary meaning)
Unit of analysis
 tertium comparationis for representation of discourse
8
Object of study of contrastive semantics and pragmatics
 Discourse meaning intended by Model Speaker and
recovered by Model Addressee (primary meaning)
Unit of analysis
 tertium comparationis for representation of discourse
Theory of discourse meaning which models this object of
study
9
Object of study of contrastive semantics and pragmatics
 Discourse meaning intended by Model Speaker and
recovered by Model Addressee (primary meaning)
Unit of analysis
 tertium comparationis for representation of discourse
Theory of discourse meaning which models this object of
study
 Default Semantics (Jaszczolt 2005; forthcoming a)
10
Post-Gricean theory of utterance/ discourse
meaning
radical pragmatics
sense-generality
contextualism
11
(3)
(3a)
Some British people like cricket.
Some but not all British people like cricket.
(4)
(4a)
Tom dropped a camera and it broke.
Tom dropped a camera and as a result it broke.
(5)
(5a)
Everybody came to Leuven.
Every speaker registered for ICLC 5 came to
Leuven.
12
Semantic analysis takes us only part of the way towards
the recovery of utterance meaning. Pragmatic
enrichment completes the process.
Enrichment:
and +> and then, and as a result
some +> some but not all
everybody +> everybody in the room, every acquaintance
of the speaker, etc.
13
Modulation (Recanati 2004, 2005):
The logical form becomes enriched/modulated as a
result of pragmatic inference and the entire
semantic/pragmatic product becomes subjected to the
truth-conditional analysis.
14
 What is said (Recanati)
 Primary meaning (Jaszczolt)
15
 What is said (Recanati)
 Primary meaning (Jaszczolt)
?
Question:
How far can the logical form be extended? ‘How much
pragmatics’ is allowed in the semantic representation?
16
Aspects of meaning are added to the truth-conditional
content (‘what is said’) when they conform to our pretheoretic intuitions. Availability Principle (Recanati).
17
The logical form of the sentence can not only be
extended but also replaced by a new semantic
representation when the primary, intended meaning
demands it. Such extensions or substitutions are primary
meanings and their representations are merger
representations in Default Semantics (Jaszczolt). There
is no syntactic constraint on merger representations.
18
(6)
You are not going to die, Peter.
(6a)
There is no future time at which you will die,
Peter.
You are not going to die from this cut, Peter.
There is nothing to worry about, Peter.
(6b)
(6c)
Default Semantics: (6c) – substituted proposition
(primary meaning)
19
Summary so far
The output of syntactic processing often leaves the
meaning underdetermined.
20
Summary so far
The output of syntactic processing often leaves the
meaning underdetermined.
This pragmatically modified representation is an object of
study of a theory of meaning (contextualism: Default
Semantics).
21
Summary so far
The output of syntactic processing often leaves the
meaning underdetermined.
This pragmatically modified representation is an object of
study of a theory of meaning (contextualism: Default
Semantics).
There is no syntactic constraint on the object of study.
22
Summary so far
The output of syntactic processing often leaves the
meaning underdetermined.
This pragmatically modified representation is an object of
study of a theory of meaning (contextualism: Default
Semantics).
There is no syntactic constraint on the object of study.
Discourse meaning is construed as meaning intended by
the Model Speaker and recovered by Model Addressee.
23
Tertium Comparationis
The main problem of Theoretical Contrastive Studies:
what criterion of measurement should we use to contrast
languages?
Platform of reference/ comparison, tertium comparationis
(Krzeszowski 1990)
24
Pragmatic tertium comparationis:
illocutionary force
(7)
English:
A:
How nice you look today.
B:
Thank you.
(8)
Polish:
A:
Jak ładnie dzisiaj wyglądasz.
B:
To tylko stara sukienka. (It’s only an old dress.)
25
Main problems with speech act as tertium comparationis:
Cognitive reality of speech act types
Speech acts trigger different uptake in different cultures
Speech-act type – situation mismatch
Illocution – perlocution boundary problem
26
Faithful translation: translating the author’s intentions,
assumptions, rather than structure and style (Nida 1964;
Gentzler 1993; de Beaugrande 1980)
27
Faithful translation: translating the author’s intentions,
assumptions, rather than structure and style (Nida 1964;
Gentzler 1993; de Beaugrande 1980)
‘…the equivalence between a text and its translation can
be neither in form nor lexical meanings, but only in the
experience of text receivers.’ de Beaugrande (1980:
291).
28
Hypotheses in Jaszczolt (2003: 444):
H1
Semantic equivalence is the equivalence of what is said.
H2
Pragmatic equivalence is the equivalence of what is
implicitly communicated.
29
H1
Semantic equivalence is the equivalence of what is said.

adequate, contextualist definition of what is said: primary
meaning of Default Semantics
30
H1
Semantic equivalence is the equivalence of what is said.

adequate, contextualist definition of what is said: primary
meaning of Default Semantics
H2
Pragmatic equivalence is the equivalence of what is
implicitly communicated.

Pragmatic equivalence is the equivalence of both
primary and secondary meanings.
31
Primary Meanings of Default Semantics
Default Semantics (DS, Jaszczolt, e.g. 2005,
forthcoming a, b) is a radical contextualist theory.
Objective: to model utterance meaning as intended by
the Model Speaker and recovered by the Model
Addressee.
32
Going beyond contextualism:
DS does not recognize the level of meaning at
which the logical form is pragmatically
developed/modulated as a real, interesting, and
cognitively justified construct.
To do so would be to assume that syntax plays
a privileged role among various carriers of
information (contextualists’ mistake).
33
(9)
Child: Can I go punting?
Mother: You are too small.
(A) The child is too small to go punting.
(B) The child can’t go punting.
34
(9)
Child: Can I go punting?
Mother: You are too small.
(A) The child is too small to go punting.
(B) The child can’t go punting.
(6)
Situation: A little boy cuts his finger and cries.
Mother: You are not going to die.
(A) The boy is not going to die from the cut.
(B1) There is nothing to worry about.
(B2) It’s not a big deal.
35
(9)
Child: Can I go punting?
Mother: You are too small.
(A) The child is too small to go punting.
(B) The child can’t go punting.
(6)
Situation: A little boy cuts his finger and cries.
Mother: You are not going to die.
(A) The boy is not going to die from the cut.
(B1) There is nothing to worry about.
(B2) It’s not a big deal.
36
DS takes as its object of semantic representation the
primary, salient, intended meanings and hence allows for
the B interpretations to be modelled.
Interlocutors frequently communicate their main intended
content through a proposition which is not syntactically
restricted.
 The representation of the primary meaning need not be
isomorphic with the representation of the uttered
sentence or with a development of that syntactic form. It
need not constitute an enrichment/modulation of the
proposition expressed in the sentence.
37
The syntactic constraint of post-Gricean contextualism is
rejected.
The kind of meaning that is modelled in the theory of
meaning is the primary meaning. The primary meaning is
the main message intended by the Model Speaker and
recovered by the Model Addressee.
38
Experimental evidence:
Nicolle and Clark 1999
Pitts 2005
Sysoeva and Jaszczolt 2007 & forthcoming
39
Merger Representation 
Primary meanings are modelled as the so-called merger
representations.
40
Merger Representation 
Primary meanings are modelled as the so-called merger
representations.
The outputs of sources of information about meaning
merge and all the outputs are treated on an equal
footing. The syntactic constraint is abandoned.
41
Merger Representation 
Primary meanings are modelled as the so-called merger
representations.
The outputs of sources of information about meaning
merge and all the outputs are treated on an equal
footing. The syntactic constraint is abandoned.
Merger representations have the status of mental
representations.
42
Merger Representation 
Primary meanings are modelled as the so-called
merger representations.
The outputs of sources of information about
meaning merge and all the outputs are treated on
an equal footing. The syntactic constraint is
abandoned.
Merger representations have the status of mental
representations.
They have a compositional structure: they are
proposition-like, truth-conditionally evaluable
constructs, integrating information coming from
various sources that interacts according to the
principles established by the intentional character
of discourse.
43
Sources of information for :
(i) world knowledge (WK);
(ii) word meaning and sentence structure (WS);
(iii) situation of discourse (SD);
(iv) properties of the human inferential system (IS);
(v) stereotypes and presumptions about society and
culture (SC).
44
SC
(10)
A Botticelli was stolen from the Uffizi last week.
(10a) A painting by Botticelli was stolen from the Uffizi
Gallery in Florence last week.
45
WS – lexicon and grammar
SD – context-dependent inference
46
WK
(11)The temperature fell below -10 degrees Celsius and
the lake froze.
(11a)
The temperature fell below -10 degrees
Celsius and as a result the lake froze.
47
IS
(12)
The author of Cloud Atlas has breathtaking
sensitivity and imagination.
(12a) David Mitchell has breathtaking sensitivity and
imagination.
48
world knowledge (WK)
word meaning and sentence structure (WS)
merger representation Σ
situation of discourse (SD)
stereotypes and presumptions
about society and culture (SC)
properties of human inferential system (IS)
Fig. 1: Sources of information contributing to a merger representation Σ
The model of sources of information can be mapped
onto types of processes that produce the merger
representation  of the primary meaning and the
additional (secondary) meanings.
50
Primary meaning:
combination of word meaning
and sentence structure (WS)
merger representation Σ
social, cultural and
cognitive defaults (CD)
world-knowledge defaultspm (SCWDpm)
conscious pragmatic inferencepm
(from situation of discourse, social and
cultural assumptions, and world
knowledge) (CPIpm)
Secondary meanings:
 Social, cultural and world-knowledge defaultssm (SCWDsm)
 conscious pragmatic inferencesm (CPIsm)
Fig. 2: Utterance interpretation according to the processing model of the revised
version of Default Semantics
Mapping between sources and processes
WK
SC
WS
SD
IS





SCWD or CPI
SCWD or CPI
WS (logical form)
CPI
CD
In building merger representations DS makes use of the
processing model and it indexes the components of 
with a subscript standing for the type of processing.
52
Unresolved question:
What counts as effortful processing (CPI) vis-à-vis
automatic utilization of knowledge of culture and society
(SCWD)?
53
Unresolved question:
What counts as effortful processing (CPI) vis-à-vis
automatic utilization of knowledge of culture and society
(SCWD)?
Assumption: utterance interpretation makes use of
automatic, default interpretations which figure as salient
and strong interpretative probabilities unless the context
dictates otherwise.
54
There is a need to distinguish the two kinds of
processes: the conscious, inferential one and the
automatic, subdoxastic one.
Cf.: Levinson’s (2000) presumptive meanings &
Recanati’s (2002, 2004) truth-conditional pragmatics
retain the common intuition that the primary meaning is
built both out of automatic, associative, unreflective
components and conscious, inferential ones.
55
Compositionality of Primary Meanings
Schiffer (e. g. 1991, 1994, 2003): compositionality is not
a necessary property of semantics; composition of
meaning may simply reflect compositional reality.
Meaning supervenes on the structure of the world.
Recanati (2004): compositionality belongs to enriched,
modulated propositions. ‘Interactionist’, ‘Gestaltist’
approach to compositionality.
DS: compositionality utterance meaning rather than
sentence meaning.
56
Merger representations are
compositional structures.
57
Compositionality is a necessary prerequisite for any
theory of meaning.
Compositionality should not be seen as a methodological
requirement on the syntax and semantics of sentences.
DS agrees with Jackendoff (2002: 293) that there is no
‘strictly linguistic meaning’.
58
Default and inferential interpretations are construed in DS
as operating on a unit that is adequate for the case at
hand, ranging from a morpheme to the entire discourse.
59
Selected applications of DS
Origins: Jaszczolt 1992, 1999. Parsimony of Levels
(POL) Principle: Levels of senses are not to be multiplied
beyond necessity.
First applications: definite descriptions, proper names,
and belief reports (Jaszczolt 1997, 1999); negation and
discourse connectives (Lee 2002).
Recent applications: presupposition, sentential
connectives, number terms, temporality, and modality
(Jaszczolt 2005; forthcoming a; Srioutai 2004, 2006;
Jaszczolt and Srioutai forthcoming; Engemann 2008);
syntactic constraint on primary meaning (Sysoeva and
Jaszczolt 2007 and forthcoming).
60
Languages:
English, Korean, Thai, Russian, French, German
61
Definite NPs in English
(13)
The architect of this church was an eccentric.
(13a) The architect of Sagrada Família (whoever he
was) was an eccentric.
(13b) Antoni Gaudí was an eccentric.
(13c) Simon Guggenheim was an eccentric.
62
Degrees of Intentions (DI) Principle:
Intentions and intentionality allow for degrees.
Primary Intention (PI) Principle:
The primary role of intention in communication is to
secure the referent of the speaker’s utterance.
Jaszczolt (1999: xix)
63
x
[Antoni Gaudí]CD (x)

[[x]CD was an eccentric]WS
Fig. 3: Merger representation for the default referential reading of example (13)
x
[Simon Guggenheim]CPIpm (x)

[[x]CPIpm was an eccentric]WS
Fig. 4: Merger representation for the referential mistake reading of example (13)
xy

[Sagrada Família]CD (y)
[the architect of y]WS, CPIpm (x)
[[x]CPIpm was an eccentric]WS
Fig. 5: Merger representation for the attributive reading of example (13)
Future-time reference
(14) Lidia will play in a concert tomorrow evening.
(15) Lidia will be playing in a concert tomorrow
evening.
(16) Lidia is going to play in a concert tomorrow
evening.
(17) Lidia is playing in a concert tomorrow evening.
(18) Lidia plays in a concert tomorrow evening.
67
(19) Lidia must be playing in a concert tomorrow evening.
(20) Lidia ought to/should be playing in a concert tomorrow
evening.
(21) Lidia may play/be playing in a concert tomorrow
evening.
(22) Lidia might play/be playing in a concert tomorrow
evening.
68
ACCΔ ├ Σ
‘it is acceptable to the degree Δ that Σ is true’
69
x t Σ'
[Lidia]CD (x)
tomorrow evening (t)

[ACCrf ├ Σ']WS,CD
Σ'
[x play in a concert]WS
Fig. 6: Σ for ‘Lidia will play in a concert tomorrow evening’ (regular future)
x t Σ'


[Lidia]CD (x)
tomorrow evening (t)
[ACCfp ├ Σ']WS, CPIpm
Σ'
[x play in a concert]WS
Fig. 7: Σ for ‘Lidia is playing in a concert tomorrow evening’ (futurative progressive)
x t Σ'
[Lidia]CD (x)
tomorrow evening (t)
[ACCepf may ├ Σ']WS, CD

Σ'
[x play in a concert]WS

Fig. 8: Σ for ‘Lidia may play in a concert tomorrow evening’ (future may, default
reading)
will and c1a
(23) Mary will be in the opera now.
(23a) m3ae:r3i:I
Mary
y3u:I
y3u:I
kh3ong
may
c1a
c1a
d1u:
see

1op1e:r3a:
I
opera
t1o’:nn3i:II
now
73
(24) Mary will sometimes go to the opera in her tracksuit.
(24a)
b1a:ngkh3r3angII
sometimes
d1u:
see

1op1e:r3a:
opera
m3ae:r3i:I
Mary
I
c1a
c1a
p1ay1
go
n3ay2 ch3udw3o’m
in
tracksuit
74
(25)
k1r3eml3in
Gremlin
c1a
c1a
c1ap ng3u:
catch snake
(25a) Gremlin will catch a snake (default meaning)
(25b) Gremlin would have caught a snake (contextually
inferred meaning)
Srioutai (2006: 242-4)
75
xytne
[k1r3eml3in]CD (x)
[ng3u:]CD (y)
 
'
[x c1ap y]WS
[ACCrf ├ ']WS, CD
Fig. 9:  for ‘Gremlin will catch a snake.’ (default reading: CD)
x y '

[k1r3eml3in]CD (x)
[ng3u:]CD (y)
'
[x c1ap y]WS
[ACCcf c1a ├ ']WS, CPI
Fig. 10:  for ‘Gremlin would have caught a snake.’ (non-default
reading, CPI)
(1) m3ae:r3i:I
Mary
kh2ian
write
n3iy3ai:
novel
78
x y '

[m3ae:r3i:I]CD (x)
[n3iy3ai:]CD (y)
'
[x kh2ian y]WS
[ACCrp ├ ']WS, CPI
Fig. 11:  for ‘Mary wrote a novel’ (regular past, CPI)
Present-time reference in English
(26)
(27)
(28)
(29)
(30)
Lidia is playing in a concert now.
Lidia will be playing in a concert now.
Lidia must be playing in a concert now.
Lidia may be playing in a concert now.
Lidia might be playing in a concert now.
(31) Lidia will always play the piano when she is
upset.
(dispositional necessity present)
80
Past-time reference in English
Lidia played in a concert yesterday evening.
Lidia was playing in a concert yesterday evening.
Lidia would have been playing in a concert then.
Lidia must have been playing in a concert yesterday
evening.
(36) Lidia may have been playing in a concert yesterday
evening.
(37) Lidia might have been playing in a concert
yesterday evening.
(32)
(33)
(34)
(35)
81
Conclusion:
Merger representation of Default Semantics can
successfully function as a unit of analysis for a
contrastive study of discourse meaning
= tertium comparationis for contrastive semantics
and pragmatics
82
Main advantages of merger representations:
Accounting for cross-linguistic differences in sources of
information (e.g. lexicon vs. pragmatic inference)
Modelling of the main, intended meaning.
Psychology of utterance processing: no syntactic
constraint on .
Pragmatic compositionality: accounting for the
interaction of meaning coming from different sources.
83
Future prospects:
Algorithm for the compositional interaction of lexicon,
syntax, pragmatics (WS, WK, SD, SC, IS)
The default/inference boundary
Application to more types of constructions and to
languages which substantially rely on pragmatic
inference.
84
Thank you!
85
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Meaning Merger: An Object of Study for Contrastive