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© 2019

Context, Cognition and Conditionals

Book

Table of contents

About this book

Introduction

This book proposes a semantic theory of conditionals that can account for (i) the variability in usages that conditional sentences can be put; and (ii) both conditional sentences of the form ‘if p, q’ and those conditional thoughts that are expressed without using ‘if’. It presents theoretical arguments as well as empirical evidence from English and other languages in support of the thesis that an adequate study of conditionals has to go beyond an analysis of specific sentence forms or lexical items. The resulting perspective on conditionals is one in which conditionality is located at a higher level than that of the sentence; namely, at the level of thought. The author argues that it is only through adopting such a perspective, and with it, a commitment to context-dependent semantics, that we can successfully represent conditional utterances as they are used and understood by ordinary language users. It will be of interest to students and scholars working on the semantics of conditionals in the fields of linguistics (especially semantics and pragmatics) and philosophy of language.

Chi-Hé Elder is Lecturer in Linguistics in the School of Politics, Philosophy and Language and Communication Studies at the University of East Anglia, UK. Her research interests lie in the relationship between post-Gricean pragmatics and interactional pragmatics, with a particular focus on the semantics and pragmatics of conditionals.

Keywords

truth conditions conditional utterances sentences meanings semantic theory syntactic structures International Corpus of English ICE-GB explicit meaning implicit meaning language and logic post-Gricean pragmatics typology

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication StudiesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

About the authors

Chi-Hé Elder is Lecturer in Linguistics in the School of Politics, Philosophy and Language and Communication Studies at the University of East Anglia, UK. Her research interests lie in the relationship between post-Gricean pragmatics and interactional pragmatics, with a particular focus on the semantics and pragmatics of conditionals.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Context, Cognition and Conditionals
  • Authors Chi-Hé Elder
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies in Pragmatics, Language and Cognition
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies in Pragmatics, Language and Cognition
  • DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-13799-1
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-13798-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-13801-1
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-13799-1
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XV, 279
  • Number of Illustrations 7 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Cognitive Linguistics
    Pragmatics
    Semantics
    Philosophy of Language
    Psycholinguistics
  • Buy this book on publisher's site

Reviews

“This book offers a bold new proposal on how to analyse conditionals in language, relating them to both human cognition and communication contexts rather than studying them at a sentence level, which has hitherto been the case in the literature. Based on extensive research by the author, it is a welcome and much needed contribution to both linguistics and philosophy of language. It is empirically strong, rich with examples and insightful theoretical analyses. Overall, it is an impressive example of integrative interdisciplinary research that marries various linguistic and philosophical traditions with regard to the study of meaning, providing a multifaceted treatment of meaning as a dynamic concept: one that comprises not just speaker intentions and hearer inferences, but also the aspects of joint work of interlocutors who create meanings together in specific conversations.” (Luna Filipovic, Professor of Language and Cognition, University of East Anglia, UK)

“Chi-Hé Elder’s pragmatic and cognitively-oriented account of conditionals develops an important new perspective on long-standing debates in linguistics. Her move to ensure such theoretical debates accord with empirical reality and situate the representation of meanings at the level of thought has far-reaching implications for how we might more productively work at the intersection of semantics and pragmatics. Readers will be rewarded with an exemplar par excellence of an empirically-grounded approach to theorisation in linguistics.” (Michael Haugh, University of Queensland, Australia)

“Conditionals used to be easy. It was just a matter of IF and THEN. Nowadays it’s a zoo… IFs without a consequent, IFs that don’t provide a condition for the THEN, and all manner of WHENs and whatnots, or even conditionals with no connective at all. You want a conditional? There’s one right here. Chi-Hé Elder’s Context, Cognition and Conditionals presents a new and detailed study of naturally occurring corpus data, unique in coverage and unmatched in systematicity, and a new account which focuses not on conditional sentences, but on conditional thoughts. The corpus study alone, with its detailed taxonomy of conditional types and both qualitative and quantitative results, would be essential reading for anyone working on conditionals in the future. But Elder goes much further: using the framework of Default Semantics, she shows how we weave different elements of conventional meaning and contextual information together, revealing the ways in which conditional and non-conditional sentences alike may or may not express conditional thoughts. You want a great book on conditionals? Here it is!” (David Beaver, University of Texas at Austin, USA)