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Volume 53, Issue 3


Conversational implicatures, reference point constructions, and that noun thing

William Salmon
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Writing Studies, University of Minnesota Duluth, 1201 Ordean Ct, HUM 435, Duluth, MN 55812, USA
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Published Online: 2015-04-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2015-0009


This paper offers the first empirical and theoretical account of an NP construction referred to as that noun thing (TNT) in English. I argue that the construction is a Langackerian reference point construction, with the basic use of referring in situations in which speakers find it difficult to characterize the referent in question. I also show that speakers systematically rely on this relational means of referring in specific contexts to convey a range of Gricean conversational implicatures such as speaker disapproval, which are above and beyond the conventional meaning of the construction. The TNT thus offers a clear space from which to view the interplay of conventional meaning in cognitive and construction grammars with classic Gricean pragmatics.

Keywords: conversational implicature; reference point; cognitive grammar; speaker distance

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Published Online: 2015-04-29

Published in Print: 2015-05-01

Citation Information: Linguistics, Volume 53, Issue 3, Pages 443–477, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2015-0009.

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