MIT 24 954 - DISJUNCTION AND ALTERNATIVENESS (24 pages)

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DISJUNCTION AND ALTERNATIVENESS



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DISJUNCTION AND ALTERNATIVENESS

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Pages:
24
School:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Course:
24 954 - Pragmatics in Linguistic Theory

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MANDY SIMONS DISJUNCTION AND ALTERNATIVENESS I NTRODUCTION There is a requirement which a disjunction must satisfy in order to constitute a felicitous contribution to an ordinary conversation its disjuncts must be interpretable as relevant alternatives When such an interpretation is not available the disjunction is highly anomalous The disjuncts of sentence 1 for example appear unrelated to one another and the disjunction is concomitantly odd The effect is similar when the disjuncts are related but do not constitute distinct alternatives perhaps by virtue of one disjunct entailing another as in 2 1 Either there is dirt in the fuel line or it is raining in Tel Aviv 2 Either there is dirt in the fuel line or there is something in the fuel line There is thus a requirement that the disjuncts of a clausal disjunction uttered in a conversation constitute relevant and distinct alternatives Let s call the first part of this requirement the relatedness condition and the second the distinctness condition The goal of this paper is to uncover the source of these conditions The approach I take is Gricean I assume that these two pragmatic conditions can be derived from general principles of conversation interacting with the truth conditions of or which I take to be those of inclusive disjunction This is a rather uncontroversial position However to uphold the position we need an explicit account of just how the pragmatic constraints can be derived including the precise nature of the conversational principles which produce them This paper will give such an account The two pragmatic conditions identified above will be treated separately The relatedness condition turns out to be the more interesting of the two and most of the paper will be concerned with it I will show that there Linguistics and Philosophy 24 597 619 2001 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers Printed in the Netherlands 598 MANDY SIMONS are two plausible accounts that can be given which I will call the evidencebased account



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