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What’s pragmatics doing outside constructions?

Abstract : This chapter argues against a view according to which pragmatics, as opposed to semantics, is completely outside grammar. It suggests that, on the contrary, speakers strongly associate various pragmatic aspects of information with constructions. I here give an overview of a wide range of pragmatic phenomena as they have been dealt with in Construction Grammar, a linguistic framework which, as a matter of principle, accommodates pragmatic information in the description of stored form-function units. Such information includes Gricean maxims, information structure, illocutionary force and larger discourse structure. However, Construction Grammarians have been rather vague on what kind of (presumably) pragmatic data should and should not be included in a construction and whether or not, within a given construction, pragmatics and semantics constitute separate layers of information. I demonstrate a heuristic based on cross-linguistic or intra-linguistic comparison of functionally similar constructions (e.g. Can you ... ? and Are you able to ... ?) to decide whether we should explicitly specify ‘short-circuited’ usage information (e.g. the request use of Can you ... ?) that could in principle be obtained purely on the basis of sound reasoning. I also propose that semantics and pragmatics should be treated as distinct levels of functional information in constructions.
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Contributor : Bert Cappelle <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - 11:10:12 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, July 3, 2018 - 11:37:11 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-01496992, version 1



Bert Cappelle. What’s pragmatics doing outside constructions?. Ilse Depraetere; Raphael Salkie. Semantics and Pragmatics: Drawing a Line, Springer International Publishing, pp.115-151, 2017. ⟨hal-01496992⟩



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