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Beyond Semantics and Pragmatics$
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Gerhard Preyer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198791492

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198791492.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

Composing Meaning and Thinking

Composing Meaning and Thinking

(p.201) 11 Composing Meaning and Thinking
Beyond Semantics and Pragmatics

Roberto G. de Almeida

Oxford University Press

If there is a line between semantics and pragmatics, where is it drawn? In this essay I propose that appreciating a sentence is subject to two sets of processes: linguistic (viz., syntactic, semantic) driving the composition of shallow propositions, and unbounded pragmatic (viz., thinking). In section 1, I discuss some guiding assumptions on cognitive architecture, which constrain the nature of linguistic and cognitive representations and processes—and by implication, the conception of the semantics/pragmatics divide I have to offer. The phenomena I examine in section 2, relying on linguistic arguments and experimental evidence, suggest that for certain constructions there is an early “literal” process of interpretation followed by a period of uncertainty, indicating that the early linguistic computations produce a “shallow” semantic representation, not a fully enriched one. The cases I discuss, culminating in metaphors and so-called indeterminate sentences, challenge the prowess of linguistic computations for resolving—even suggesting—interpretations.

Keywords:   Compositionality, indeterminacy, sentence comprehension, metaphor, semantics, pragmatics, psycholinguistics

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