Is Unsaying Polite?

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Abstract

This paper is divided in five sections. Section 11.1 sketches the history of the distinction between speech act with negative content and negated speech act, and gives a general dynamic interpretation for negated speech act. “Downdate semantics” for AGM contraction is introduced in Section 11.2. Relying on semantically interpreted contraction, Section 11.3 develops the dynamic semantics for constative and directive speech acts, and their external negations. The expressive completeness for the formal variants of natural language utterances, none of which is a retraction, has been proved in Section 11.4. The last section gives a laconic answer to the question posed in the title of the paper.