Semantic Approaches To Quotation, Metonymy And Commonly Used Verbs
This dissertation is a collection of three papers in which I apply underappreciated resources to solve puzzles at the interface between semantics and pragmatics. The first paper defends an unpopular semantics for quotation: the Proper Name Theory (PNT). According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "...the unanimous consensus is that [the PNT] fails miserably." I defend the PNT by supplementing it with a metasemantic account of quotation formation. While semantics is the study of how lexical items are associated with meanings, metasemantics is the study of how lexical items come to be associated with meanings. I articulate the Quotation Convention (QC), a metasemantic convention for introducing quotations into the lexicon. None of the standard objections apply to the PNT as supplemented by the QC. Furthermore, the PNT is the only available theory that accounts for both markless quotation and quotations of non-linguistic material. The second paper investigates metonymy-where a nominal's denotation seems to shift to a saliently related entity. I argue that metonymy is highly conventional. Metonymy is constrained and interacts directly with the inflections of verbs. I incorporate metonymy into a semantic rule system by making use of optional semantic rules. Though theorists have avoided optionality in semantic rule systems, I argue that optionality is necessary for a satisfying semantic account of metonymy. The third paper looks at commonly used verbs such as 'make' and 'open'. Most contextualists assume underspecification for these verbs-that impoverished lexical knowledge must be supplemented by nonlinguistic cognition. I argue for an alternative account, overspecification, in which the role of non-linguistic cognition is to select pieces of rich and specific lexical knowledge that are relevant to the utterance situation.
Semantics; Pragmatics; Context; Quotation; Metonymy; Verbs; Metasemantics; Optionality; Lexicon
McConnell-Ginet, Sally; Bennett, Karen; Hodes, Harold Theodore
Ph. D., Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis