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An Introduction to English Semantics and Pragmatics

Patrick Griffiths
Edited by Chris Cummins

Edition: 2

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A clear and accessible introduction to the linguistic study of meaning

Providing a clear and accessible introduction to the linguistic study of meaning, the second edition of this bestselling textbook outlines the meaning potential (semantics) of English and how language knowledge is put to use (pragmatics). As well as gaining a systematic overview of meaning in English, readers can learn how to argue for analyses. Among the significant concepts introduced are denotation, sense relations, event types, explicature, implicature, presupposition, metaphor, reference, speech acts and (at an elementary level) Generalised Quantifier Theory. Sense relations - such as antonymy and hyponymy - are presented as summarising patterns of entailment. The sense of a word is seen as the contributions it makes to the entailments carried by sentences.

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Contents

CONTENTS

Preface

Preface to the second edition

1. Studying meaning

Overview

1.1 Sentences and utterances

1.2 Types of meaning

1.2.1 Denotation, sense, reference and deixis

1.3 Semantics vs. pragmatics

1.3.1 A first outline of semantics

1.3.2 A first outline of pragmatics

Summary

Exercises

Recommendations for reading

Notes

2. Sense relations

Overview

2.1 Propositions and entailment

2.1.1 Meaning postulates

2.2 Compositionality

2.3 Synonymy

2.4 Complementarity, antonymy, converseness and incompatibility

2.5 Hyponymy

2.5.1 Hierarchies of hyponyms

Summary

Exercises

Recommendations for reading

Notes

3. Nouns

Overview

3.1 The has-relation

3.1.1 Pragmatic inferences from the has-relation

3.1.2 Hyponymy and the has-relation

3.1.3 Parts can have parts

3.1.4 Spatial parts

3.1.5 Ends and beginnings

3.1.6 Body parts

3.2 Count nouns and mass nouns

Summary

Exercises

Recommendations for reading

4. Adjectives

Overview

4.1 Gradability

4.2 Composing adjectives with nouns

4.3 Adjective meanings in context

Summary

Exercises

Recommendations for reading

5. Verbs

Overview

5.1 Verb types and arguments

5.2 Causative verbs

5.2.1 More general causatives

5.3 Thematic relations

Summary

Exercises

Recommendations for reading

Notes

6. Tense and aspect

Overview

6.1 Tense

6.1.1 Preliminaries

6.1.2 Present, Past and Future

6.1.3 Tense and adverbials

6.2 Aspect

6.2.1 Habituality and simple aspect

6.2.2 Progressive aspect

6.2.3 Perfect aspect

6.2.4 Perfect aspect or tense?

Summary

Exercises

Recommendations for reading

Notes

7. Modality, scope and quantification

Overview

7.1 Modality

7.1.1 Modal verbs and tense

7.1.2 Deontic and epistemic modality

7.1.3 Core modal meanings

7.2 Semantic scope

7.3 Quantification

7.3.1 Some basics about sets

7.3.2 Simple quantifiers in terms of sets

7.3.3 Proportional quantifiers

7.3.4 Distributivity and collectivity

7.3.5 Quantifier scope

Summary

Exercises

Recommendations for reading

Notes

8. Pragmatics

Overview

8.1 Implicature

8.2 The Gricean maxims

8.2.1 Quantity implicatures

8.2.2 Scalar implicatures

8.2.3 Relevance implicatures

8.2.4 Manner implicatures

8.3 Relevance Theory

8.4 Presuppositions

Summary

Exercises

Recommendations for reading

Notes

9. Figurative language

Overview

9.1 Literal and figurative usage

9.2 Irony

9.3 Metaphor, metonymy and simile

Summary

Exercises

Recommendations for reading

Notes

10. Utterances in context

Overview

10.1 Definiteness

10.2 Given and new material

10.2.1 Pseudo-clefts

10.2.2 It-clefts

10.2.3 Passives

10.2.4 Lexical and syntactic converses

10.2.5 Focal stress

10.3 The Question Under Discussion

Summary

Exercises

Recommendations for reading

Notes

11. Doing things with words

Overview

11.1 Speech acts

11.2 Sentence types, and other indications

11.2.1 Syntactic cues and indirect speech acts

11.2.2 Lexical cues

11.2.3 Discourse cues

11.2.4 Integrating the information

Summary

Exercises

Recommendations for reading

Suggested answers to the exercises

Bibliography

Index

About the Author

Patrick Griffiths was a professor of English at Beppu University, Japan. He taught courses on semantics, the structure of English, psycholinguistics and general linguistics at a number of universities, including Beppu, the University of the South Pacific, and in the UK at York University and York St John.

Chris Cummins is a Chancellor's Fellow in the department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh.

Reviews

This is an excellent self-contained introduction to the study of meaning. It is highly engaging, with sensibly paced introduction of concepts and technical terms that are central to the study of semantics and pragmatics. This new edition provides an excellent update to the material while maintaining the accessible style of the original.

- Professor Ronnie Cann, University of Edinburgh

This is an excellent self-contained introduction to the study of meaning. It is highly engaging, with sensibly paced introduction of concepts and technical terms that are central to the study of semantics and pragmatics. This new edition provides an excellent update material while maintaining the accessible style of the original

- Professor Ronnie Cann, University of Edinburgh

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