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Theoretical Linguistics

An Open Peer Review Journal

Editor-in-Chief: Krifka, Manfred

Ed. by Gärtner, Hans-Martin

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How far can pragmatic mechanisms take us?

Christopher Potts1


Citation Information: Theoretical Linguistics. Volume 32, Issue 3, Pages 307–320, ISSN (Online) 1613-4060, ISSN (Print) 0301-4428, DOI: 10.1515/TL.2006.019, December 2006

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1. Truckenbrodt's challenge

Hubert Truckenbrodt issues a substantive challenge near the start of his contribution:

The variation we observe in the connection between syntactic sentence types and their possibilities of use, while showing some flexibility, is not arbitrary or unrestricted. Narrow restrictions on this relation exist, which cannot plausibly stem from general purpose pragmatic mechanisms.

This is a bold statement. The field is only just now beginning to understand what general pragmatic mechanisms are like once we dig deeper than intuitive statements. One wonders: to what extent could a precise set of pragmatic mechanisms (maxims), interacting with semantic denotations, produce the “narrow restrictions” that Truckenbrodt carefully documents?

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