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Presupposition and-entailment

Pragmatics: Presupposition and entailment
Ms. Samira Bakeer, Faculty of Arts, Misurata University

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Presupposition and-entailment

  1. 1. Presupposition and Entailment Two aspects of what is communicated but not said Sheet 4, Pragmatics, 2013-2014 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 1
  2. 2. When a speaker uses referring expressions like this, he or Shakespeare in normal circumstance, she/he is working with an assumption that the hearer knows which referent is intended. In a more general way, speakers continuously design their linguistic messages on the basis of assumptions about what the hearer already knows. These assumptions may be mistaken of course, but they underlie much of what we say in the every day use of language. 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 2
  3. 3.  Presupposition and entailment describe two different aspects of information that need not be stated as speakers assume it is already known by listeners [these concepts used to be much more central to pragmatics than they are now, but they are still important to understand the relationship between pragmatics and semantics]  presupposition: something the speaker assumes to be the case before making an utterance  Speakers, not sentences, have presuppositions!! not the same meaning as in ordinary usage (‘John wrote Harry a letter, presupposing he could read’)!! 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 3
  4. 4. Presupposition What speaker assumes as true or is known by the hearer, can described as presupposition  For example, if someone tell you “ your brother is waiting outside for you there is an obvious supposition that you have a brother.
  5. 5.       Entailment: something that logically follows from what is asserted in the utterance Sentences, not speakers, have entailments Example analysis: Mary's brother bought three horses. presuppositions: Mary exists, Mary has a brother, Mary has only one brother, Mary's brother is rich speaker's subjective presuppositions, all can be wrong  entailments: Mary's brother bought something, bought three animals, two horses, one horse etc.  entailments follow from the sentence regardless of whether the speaker's beliefs are right or wrong [Because of its logical nature, entailment is not generally discussed as much in contemporary pragmatics as the  more speaker-dependent notion of presupposition]  11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 5
  6. 6. Speakers have presuppositions while sentences have entailments.  Example:  Susan’s sister bought two houses.  This sentence presupposes that Susan exists and that she has a sister.  This sentence has the entailments that Susan’s sister bought something; now she has 2 houses, a house, and other similar logical consequences. The entailments are communicated without being said and are not dependent on the speaker’s intention. 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 6
  7. 7. Presupposition is what the speaker assumes to be the case prior to making an utterance. Entailment, which is not a pragmatic concept, is what logically follows from what is asserted in the utterance. 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 7
  8. 8. Constancy under negation:  One of the tests used to check for the presuppositions underlying sentences involves negating a sentence with a particular presupposition and considering whether the presupposition remains true  The presupposition of a statement will remain true even when that statement is negated. 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 8
  9. 9. When I say that Debora’ s cat is cute, this sentence presupposes that Debora has a cat. In  Debora’ s cat is not cute. (NOT p)  the same thing holds true, that is, it presupposes that she has a cat. This property of presupposition is generally described as constancy under negation. Basically, it means that the presupposition of a statement will remain constant (i.e. still true) even when that statement is negated. 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 9
  10. 10.  Take the sentence My car is a wreck. Now take the negative version of this sentence: My car is not a wreck. Notice that, although these two sentences have opposite meanings, the underlying presupposition, I have a car, remains true in both. This is called the constancy under negation test for presupposition. If someone says I want to do it again and I don't want to do it again both presuppose that the subject has done it already one or more times, the presupposition (do again) remains constant even though the verb want changes from being affirmative to being negative. the constancy under negation 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 10
  11. 11.  Other examples of constancy under negation:  p: Dave is angry because Jim crashed the car.  q: Jim crashed the car p >> q  NOT p: Dave isn’t angry because Jim crashed the car  q: Jim crashed the car  NOT p >> q Presupposition: 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 11
  12. 12.  p: Mr. Singleton has resumed his habit of drinking apple juice  q: p Mr. Singleton had a habit of drinking stout. >> q  NOT p: Mr. Singleton hasn’t resumed his habit of drinking apple juice  q: Mr. Singleton had a habit of drinking stout.  NOT p >> q 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 12
  13. 13. Linguistic forms (words, phrases, structures are indicators (or triggers) of potential presuppositions which can only become actual presuppositions in contexts with speakers. 1. existential 2.factive 3. Non-factive 4.lexical 5. structural 6. counterfactual Types of Presupposition 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 13
  14. 14. 1-Existential presupposition: it is the assumption of the existence of the entities named by the speaker. For example, when a speaker says "Tom’s car is new", we can presuppose that Tom exists and that he has a car.  Existential presupposition 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 14
  15. 15. 2-Factive presupposition: it is the assumption that something is true due to the presence of some verbs such as "know" and "realize" and of phrases involving “glad”, for example. Thus, when a speaker says that she didn’t realize someone was ill, we can presuppose that “someone is ill”. Also, when she says "I’m glad it’s over”, we can presuppose that “ it’s over.” Factive presupposition 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 15
  16. 16. certain verbs/construction indicate that something is a fact She didn't REALIZE he was ill  We REGRET telling him him)  I WASN'T AWARE that she was married married)  It ISN'T ODD that he left early early)  I'M GLAD that it's over  11/11/2013 (>> He was ill) (>> We told (>> She was (>> He left (>> It's over) Samira Bakeer 16
  17. 17. 3-Lexical presupposition: it is the assumption that, in using one word, the speaker can act as if another meaning (word) will be understood. For instance:  Andrew stopped running. (>>He used to run.)  You are late again. (>> You were late before.)  In this case, the use of the expressions "stop" and "again" are taken to presuppose another (unstated) concept. Lexical presupposition 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 17
  18. 18. The use of a form with its asserted meaning is conventionally interpreted with the presupposition that  another, non-asserted, meaning is understood         He MANAGED to repair the clock (>> he tried to repair the clock) Asserted meaning: he suceeded He didn't MANAGE to repair the clock (>> he tried to repair the clock) Asserted meaning: he failed He STOPPED smoking (>> he used to smoke) They STARTED complained (>> they weren't complaining before) You're late AGAIN (>> You were late before Lexical Presupposition 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 18
  19. 19.  4-Structural presupposition:  it is the assumption associated with the use of certain words and phrases. For example, wh-question in English are conventionally interpreted with the presupposition that the information after the whform (e.g. when and where) is already known to be the case.  When did she travel to the USA? Where did you buy the book? When did he leave? Where did you buy the bike?    ( >> she traveled) (>> you bought the book) (>> he left) (>> You bought the bike) The listener perceives that the information presented is necessarily true rather than just the presupposition of the person asking the question. Structural presupposition 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 19
  20. 20. 5 Non- factive presupposition: it is an assumption that something is not true. For example, verbs like "dream", "imagine" and "pretend" are used with the presupposition that what follows is not true.  I dreamed that I was rich. We imagined that we were in London. London) (>> I am not rich) (>> We are not in  He PRETENDS to be ill (>> He is not ill)  Non- factive presupposition 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 20
  21. 21. 6-Counterfactual presupposition:  it is the assumption that what is presupposed is not only untrue, but is the opposite of what is true, or contrary to facts.  For instance, some conditional structures, generally called counterfactual conditionals, presuppose that the information, in the if- clauses, is not true at the time of utterance. If you were my daughter, I would not allow you to do this. ( > you are not my daughter) Counterfactual presupposition 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 21
  22. 22. SUMMARY Type       Example Presupposition existential the X factive I regret leaving non-factive He pretended to be happy lexical He managed to escape structural When did she die? Counterfactual If I weren't ill 11/11/2013 >> X exists >> I left >> He wasn't happy >> He tried to escape >> She died >> I am ill Samira Bakeer 22
  23. 23. Entailment In pragmatics entailment is the relationship between two sentences where the truth of one (A) requires the truth of the other (B). For example, the sentence (A) The president was assassinated. entails (B) The president is dead. 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 23
  24. 24. Generally speaking, entailment is not a pragmatic concept (i.e. having to do with the speaker meaning), but it is considered a purely logical concept. Observe the examples below: 1)Bob ate three sandwiches. a) Something ate three sandwiches. b)Bob did something to three sandwiches. c) Bob ate three of something. d)Something happened. Ordered entailments 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 24
  25. 25. When a speaker utters sentence 1, the speaker is necessarily committed to the truth of a very large number of background knowledge. On any occasion, in uttering 1, however, the speaker will indicate how these entailments are to be ordered. That is, the speaker will communicate, typically by stress, which entailment is assumed to be the foreground, or more important for interpreting intended meaning, than any others. 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 25
  26. 26. For example, when the speaker utters the following sentences, she indicates that the foreground entailment, and hence her main assumption, is that Bob ate a certain number of sandwiches. a) Bob ate THREE sandwiches. b) BOB ate three sandwiches. 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 26
  27. 27. In B, the focus shifts to BOB, and the main assumption is that someone ate three sandwiches. The stress in English functions to mark the main assumption of the speaker in producing an utterance. As such, it allows the speaker to mark for the listener what the focus of the message is, and what is being assumed. 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 27
  28. 28. Cleft construction  A very similar function is exhibited by a structure called cleft construction in English, as we can observe in the example below: a) It was VICTOR that did the work. b) It wasn’t ME who took your jacket.  In both examples above, the speaker can communicate what she believes the listener may already be thinking (i.e. the foreground entailment). In b, that foreground entailment (someone took your jacket) is being made in order to deny personal responsibility. The utterance in b can be used to attribute the foreground entailment to the listener(s) without actually stating it (as a possible accusation). 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 28
  29. 29. Entailments are typically not preserved under negation. Entailment and negation
  30. 30. Consider: Vincent does not have a red car. This does not entail: Vincent has a car. Entailment
  31. 31. We call implications preserved under negation presuppositions We call implications not preserved under negation entailments Entailment or presupposition
  32. 32. In English, presuppositions are usually triggered by lexical items There are several tricks to find out whether a lexical item is a presupposition trigger or not These tests are: ◦ The negation test ◦ The conditional test ◦ The question test Presupposition triggers
  33. 33. Consider the sentence: Alex is a bachelor. This sentence implies that Alex is male. But are we dealing with a presupposition or entailment? Presupposition trigger test
  34. 34. Alex is a bachelor. Does this presuppose: Alex is male? Negation: Alex is not a bachelor. Implies: Alex is male? YES Conditional: If Alex is a bachelor, then ... Implies: Alex is male? YES Question: Is Alex is a bachelor? Implies: Alex is male? YES Conclusion: being a bachelor presupposes being male. 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 34
  35. 35. Consider the sentence: Alex is a man. This sentence implies that Alex is male. But are we dealing with a presupposition or entailment? Presupposition trigger test
  36. 36.  Alex is a man. Does this presuppose: Alex is male?  Negation: Alex is not a man. Implies: Alex is male? NO  Conditional: If Alex is a man, then ... Implies: Alex is male? NO  Question: Is Alex is a man? Implies: Alex is male? NO  Conclusion: being a man does not presuppose being male. 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 36
  37. 37. Consider the sentence: Butch knows that Zed is dead. This sentence implies Zed is dead. But are we dealing with a presupposition or entailment? Presupposition trigger test
  38. 38.  Butch knows that Zed is dead. Does this presuppose: Zed is dead?  Negation: Butch does not know that Zed is dead. Implies: Zed is dead? YES  Conditional: If Butch knows that Zed is dead, then ... Implies: Zed is dead? YES  Question: Does Butch know that Zed is dead? Implies: Zed is dead? YES  Conclusion: knowing P presupposes P. 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 38
  39. 39. Analyse the following utterances in terms of presuppositions: I regret the year of prosperity and peace has ended. The UN managed to bring about peace. A time of prosperity and peace will return. What the UN did was to bring about peace in Bosnia. 1996, which was a year of prosperity and peace, will be remembered forever. TASKS
  40. 40. Identify the respective presuppositions and classify them according to type  1 John didn’t realize that he was in debt  2 Before Strawson was even born, Frege noticed presuppositions  3 If Hannibal had only had twelve more elephants, the Romance languages wouldn’t exist now  4 John didn’t see the man with two heads  5 Carter returned to power  6 It wasn’t Henry that kissed Rosie  7 Fred hallucinated that he had won a billion Dollars  8 Agatha accused Ian of plagiarism 11/11/2013 Samira Bakeer 40

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