Pragmatic Entailment and Questions

  • Gilles Fauconnier
Part of the Texts and Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 10)


Sentential structures may contain positions that can be filled by other sentential structures:
  1. (1)

    Although —, we arrived late.

  2. (2)

    Galileo believes that —.

  3. (3)

    It is too early for —.

  4. (4)

    If —, then Monaco will attack.

I will call such structures environments and symbolize their semantic content, with a corresponding empty slot, as U — V, U’ — V’ etc. If the sentential structure S that fills the empty slot has propositional content P, then the propositional content of the entire construction (environment filled in by S) will be UPV.


Semantic Content Propositional Content Scalar Implication Polarity Item Empty Slot 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 3.
    ‘Etude de certains aspects logiques et grammaticaux de la quantification et de l’anaphore en français et en anglais’, Thèse, U. de Paris VII. ‘Implication reversal in a natural language’, Formal Semantics, eds. Guenthner and Schmidt, D. Reidel.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    This entailment is valid before possible application of Grice’s Maxim of Quantity, which allows for “Albert drank a quart” the interpretation “Albert drank exactly a quart”. Cf. L. Horn On the Semantic Properties of Logical Operators in English, UCLA Dissertation.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    anything itself is best viewed as a scalar end-point. Cf. my ‘Pragmatic scales and logical structure’, Linguistic Inquiry 6, 3.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    Cf. Note 7.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    This aspect of induced quantification, and its importance were pointed out to me by A. Lentin and independently by B. de Cornulier.Google Scholar
  6. 17.
    Cf. Note 1.Google Scholar
  7. 19.
    A. Borkin, ‘Polarity Items in Questions’ CLS, A. Borillo ‘Questions Rhétoriques’, Colloque de Vincennes, 1977.Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    Cf. “Implication reversal…” (Note 3).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gilles Fauconnier
    • 1
  1. 1.L.A.D.L., Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and University of California at San DiegoUSA

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