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The eleven original papers collected in this volume address themselves to some of the central issues in the relevance theoretic research programme since the 1995 publication of the second edition of Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance. Communication and Cognition.
Several papers investigate the distinction between conceptual and procedural meaning in order to account for the semantics of discourse connectives, for the role of intonation in utterance interpretation, and for focus phenomena. Other papers explore the role of the relevance theoretic notion of metarepresentation in utterance interpretation and prove its usefulness in the study of both linguistic topics such as epistemic modality and conditional clauses, and in the reanalysis of literary issues such as verbal humour.
Some of the central pragmatic issues dealt with are the interpretation of semantically underdetermined linguistic forms, the role and nature of pragmatic inference, the distinction between truth-conditional and non-truth-conditional meaning and the separation between explicitly and implicitly communicated meaning. The theory’s application to sociolinguistic topics is assessed and developed in an inspired account of phatic communication; and the theory’s usefulness in accounting for certain types of “grammatical” constraints is explored in relation to certain restrictions in the interpretation of indefinite descriptions.
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