MoL-2009-09: A BiOT Account of Gricean Reasoning

MoL-2009-09: Pauw, Simon (2009) A BiOT Account of Gricean Reasoning. [Report]

[thumbnail of Full Text]
Text (Full Text)

Download (396kB) | Preview
[thumbnail of Abstract] Text (Abstract)

Download (3kB)


- Tea or Coffee?
- Yes
- Huh? No, I mean, would you like tea or coffee?
- Yes
- Christ! Do you want tea?
- Yes
- coffee?
- I’d prefer coffee.
- But...alright, so coffee it is. Milk or sugar?
- Yes
- ..., milk?
- no
- One lump or two?
- Yes
- No, I mean..., how many do you want?
- Three
- Would you like some biscuits or choc...never mind...

One could wonder if it’s such a good idea to use logic to study
natural language. Actually one could wonder if it is such a good idea
to study logic at all. But, let’s suppose it is.
Many people with a more practical disposition in life consider it a
lost cause to say anything logical about language because it’s too
intuitive. They’re probably right. But, let’s suppose they aren’t.
The art would be to capture the intuitive part of language in logic.
Clearly language doesn’t quite behave as strictly logical as, well,
logic does. If I want coffee, logically the sentence “I want tea or
coffee” is true. Somehow“Yes” doesn’t quite do it for us as a
response to the question: “Would you like tea or coffee?”.
There is a difference between the semantical content of an utterance
and the conversational intentions of the speaker of an utterance. When
I ask you if you want tea or coffee, I give you three options to
choose from namely tea, coffee or nothing. I expect you to choose
precisely one of those options. This is the conversational intention
but it’s not part of the semantical content. In the field of
linguistics these conversational intentions are commonly referred to
as conversational implicatures or just implicatures.
There are many different approaches to give a formal account for
implicatures. Paul Grice has been most influential in this area (if
not only for coining the term implicatures).1 Much contemporary
research is based on the findings of Grice.
Grice suggested that a speaker obeys certain conversational
conventions. For instance, someone wants to say something he believes
is true and relevant. The speaker has an intended meaning and by
means of these conversational conventions this intended meaning is
mapped to an utterance. The hearer of the utterance can infer the
intended meaning by taking the speakers perspective into account.
Grice proposed a list of four conversational conventions (maxims). In
[1] Maria Aloni proposes to formalize these maxims in bidirectional
optimality theory (BiOT). With this paper I try to investigate how
well Aloni’s approach works and how to improve Aloni’s findings.
This paper contains nine sections. The first three set out the
field. Discussing some common ways of dealing with
implicatures. Section four and five build up to Aloni’s approach. In
section six the problems with Aloni’s approach are discussed. This
leads to some suggestions to improve this approach (worked out in
section seven). The last two chapter are reserved for the conclusion
and discussion of the suggested improvements.

Item Type: Report
Report Nr: MoL-2009-09
Series Name: Master of Logic Thesis (MoL) Series
Year: 2009
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2016 14:38
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2016 14:38

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item