Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
ReferenceInterdisciplinary Perspectives$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Jeanette Gundel and Nancy Hedberg

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195331639

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331639.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 December 2020

Issues in the Semantics and Pragmatics of Definite Descriptions in English

Issues in the Semantics and Pragmatics of Definite Descriptions in English

(p.61) 3 Issues in the Semantics and Pragmatics of Definite Descriptions in English

Barbara Abbott

Oxford University Press

This chapter defends an analysis of definite descriptions according to which they express a presupposition of existence and a conventional implicature of uniqueness. It replies to analyses offered by Szabó (2000) and Ludlow & Segal (2004), according to which definite descriptions semantically encode familiarity and give rise to a conversational implicature of uniqueness. Evidence is provided that the familiarity implicature is cancelable and calculable, unlike the (conventional) implicature of uniqueness, and is thus conversational. Descriptions with stressed the either contrast uniqueness with non-uniqueness or express a hyperbolic extension of uniqueness such as importance or prominence. Two counterarguments of Szabó and Ludlow and Segal, involving kinds of determiner meanings in languages of the world and the definiteness effect in existential sentences, are briefly replied to.

Keywords:   definite descriptions, familiarity, uniqueness, conversational implicature, conventional implicature, stressed the, definiteness effect, Szabó, Ludlow, Segal

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .