Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 71-100

First online:

A performadox in truth-conditional semantics

  • Steven E. BoërAffiliated withThe Ohio State University
  • , William G. LycanAffiliated withThe Ohio State University

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An argument is developed at some length to show that any semantical theory which treats superficially nonperformative sentences as being governed by performative prefaces at some level of underlying structure must either leave those sentences semantically uninterpreted or assign them the wrong truth-conditions. Several possible escapes from this dilemma are examined; it is tentatively concluded that such hypotheses as the Ross-Lakoff-Sadock “Performative Analysis” should be rejected despite their attractions.