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Intercultural Pragmatics

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Volume 16, Issue 3


First things first: The pragmatics of “natural order”

Laurence Horn
Published Online: 2019-05-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2019-0013


Classical rhetoricians dating back to Aristotle sought to define the principles of natural order that determine priority in sequences, especially in linguistic representations. Among the principles with the widest predictive power for the ancients and their modern heirs are those stating that A can be prior to B “with respect to temporal order”, that A can be prior to B with respect to what is “known or less informative” than what comes later, and that A can be prior to B with respect to what is “better” or “more worthy”. But when and how do these ordering principles influence the form of linguistic sequences, and how are conflicts between the principles resolved? What determines the priority between the principles of priority? What makes “natural order” natural? Drawing on over two millennia of scholarship, we explore the pragmatic motivation for the primary ordering principles, and in particular for those affecting the order of logically symmetric but rhetorically asymmetric conjunctions.

Keywords: conjunction buttressing; Me First principle; linearization problem; narration; natural order; principle of temporal sequence


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About the article

Laurence Horn

Laurence Horn is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Philosophy at Yale University. He is the author of A Natural History of Negation (Chicago, 1989; CSLI, 2001) and over 100 papers and handbook entries on negation, polarity, implicature, presupposition, pragmatic theory, word meaning, grammatical variation, and lying. His PhD dissertation (UCLA, 1972) introduced scalar implicature. His six (co-)edited volumes include The Handbook of Pragmatics (Blackwell, 2004; co-edited with Gregory Ward) and Pragmatics, Truth and Underspecification (Brill, 2018; co-edited with Ken Turner). He is an elected fellow of the Linguistic Society of America and edited the Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics series (Garland/Routledge).

Published Online: 2019-05-29

Published in Print: 2019-05-27

Citation Information: Intercultural Pragmatics, Volume 16, Issue 3, Pages 257–287, ISSN (Online) 1613-365X, ISSN (Print) 1612-295X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2019-0013.

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