Presupposition Conclusion Introduction with Q&A Types ofAntipresupposition Presupposition Outline Location & Projection problems Theories of Presupposition
Speakers assume certain information is already known by their listeners.This is part of what is communicated but not said. Presuppositions and entailments Two aspects of what is communicated but not said
Presupposition: The information that aspeaker assumes to be already known.(The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language, 1987)Implicit meanings conveyed by the speaker throughthe use of particular words.Ex: "The Cold War has ended" presupposes that theexistence of the entities it refers to, in this case the"Cold War".
A presupposition is a condition which must be fulfilled in order for an expression to make sense A presupposition is introduced by a lexical element or construction called the presupposition trigger
A presupposition: Is a background belief, mutually assumed by the speaker and the addressee for the utterance to be considered appropriate in context Survives when the utterance is negated, questioned or embedded in an attitude context Is triggered by a lexical item or a grammatical construction in the utterance
TYPES OF PRESUPPOSITIONPresuppositions are associated with the use of alarge number of words, phrases and structures.These linguistic forms are considered as indicatorsof potential presupposition, which can only becomeactual presupposition in contexts with speakers.
Existential PresuppositionEntities named by the speaker and assumed to bepresent- NP.- Possessive constructions“Rahat’s car is new” we can presuppose thatRahat exists and that he has a car.Some lexical triggers: Definite NPs: The student fell asleep. The student didn’t fall asleep Atif is a bachelor (Atif is an unmarried male person)
Factive PresuppositionIdentified by the presence of some verbs such as "know“,"realize“, “be glad”, “be sorry”, etc.Some lexical triggers: Factive verbs: Lawrence realized Rana ate a sandwich. Rana regretted eating a sandwich. Rana liked eating a sandwich. I was aware of the class cancellation on Saturday They announced the winner of the contest. She didn’t realize that she was ill.
Lexical PresuppositionIn using one word, the speaker can act as if anothermeaning will be understood. For instance:Mary stopped running. (>>He used to run.)You are late again. (>> You were late before.)Are you still such a bad driver? (>> You were a bad driver)"stop“, "again“ “still” are taken to presuppose another(unstated) concept.Some lexical triggers: Change of state verbs: Rana stopped eating a sandwich (at 2pm). Rana started eating a sandwich (at 2pm). Verbs of judgment: Lawrence blamed Rana for eating the sandwich. Lawrence faults Rana for eating the sandwich.
Structural PresuppositionIt is the assumption associated with the use of certainstructures.- wh-question constructions.When did she travel to the USA? ( >> she travelled)Where did you buy the book? (>> you bought the book)The listener perceives that the information presented isnecessarily true, or intended as true by the speaker..
Non-factive presuppositionit is an assumption referred to something that is nottrue.For example, verbs like "dream", "imagine" and"pretend" are used with the presupposition that whatfollows is not true.I dreamed that I was rich. (>> I was not rich)We imagined that we were in London. (>> We werenot in London)
Counterfactual presuppositionIt is the assumption that what is presupposed is notonly untrue, but is the opposite of what is true, orcontrary to facts.-conditional structures,If you were my daughter, I would not allow you to dothis. ( >> you are not my daughter)If I were rich I would buy a Ferrari (>> I’m not rich)
Theories of Presupposition Presupposition as a property of sentences under this view, presupposition is part of linguistic meaning therefore, it is a “semantic” phenomenon Presupposition as speaker belief under this view, a presupposition is something believed to be true by the speaker, as part of a communicative act therefore, it’s a “pragmatic” phenomenon
The semantic view Essentially, tries to account for presupposition as a truth relation p presupposes q if: when p is true, so is q when p is false, q is still true when q is true, p could be either true or false This allows us to view presupposition on a par with other relations like entailment
The semantic view Accounts for the difference between entailment and presupposition in a truth-conditional way Presupposition: If p is false, q is still true My wife went to Karachi presupposes I have a wife My wife didn’t go to Karachi still presupposes I have a wife Entailment: If p is false, then the entailment false I saw Arif this morning I saw someone this morning I didn’t see Arif this morning -/-> I saw someone this morning.
Problem 1: presupposition failure Under the semantic view, we would have to say that presupposition failure results in falsity of a sentence: The King of France is bald. Presupposes that there is one and only one king of France Fact: there is no King of France Therefore: sentence is false We could try to analyse presupposition differently: e.g. If q is false, then p is not false, but dubious But do we want to claim that existence and uniqueness are part of the meaning of the definite description?
Pragmatic solution to Problem 1 Under this approach, existence/uniqueness are not part of the semantics of definite (cf our earlier discussion of reference). they are viewed as conventions on the use of such expressions: If a speaker uses a definite, this presupposes that there is some unique entity that the listener can identify If the convention is violated, this doesn’t render the sentence false, but infelicitous. It’s not a lack of truth, but a failure of the pragmatic conventions
Problem 2: Presupposition triggers and context She cried before going out. Presupposes: She went out She died before going out. Does not presuppose: She went out If presupposition is so sensitive to context, can it be part of the expression meaning?
The pragmatic reply Presuppositions are defensible: They are conventionally carried by certain expressions Speakers are conscious of the presuppositions their utterances carry But in some contexts, they are simply defeated or cancelled
Some more on the pragmatic theory Influential exponents include Stalnaker (1974): Suggested that when people communicate, they have a common ground (CG) This is a background set of assumptions that they both make, and know to be true Presupposition works against this common ground Felicitous use of an utterance requires that its presuppositions be commonly held by all interlocutors
Dealing with new presuppositions It’s a fact about communication that not everything we presuppose is known to our interlocutor A: My dog died. B: Didn’t know you had one. Ways out: we can ask for clarification sometimes, we don’t because the presupposition is quite clear and obvious We just adopt it.
Accommodation Lewis (1979) suggested that interlocutors carry out Accommodation: If at time t something is said that presupposes p, but p is not presupposed (not in common ground), then, all other things being equal, p is introduced in the common ground.
Accommodation exampleSpeaker A (to B):The guy who murdered my cat was really insane. They’ve now put him in an asylum. Suppose B didn’t know my cat was murdered. The definite description the guy who murdered my cat presupposes that there is one person who was the murderer of my cat B can accommodate this, by assuming that it’s true and is now part of common ground
How to locate Where, When & Why Projection Projection problems
Elements that introduce presuppositions are called presupposition triggers Factive verb Shakeel regrets that she cooked the rice. Phase change verbs Azam stopped smoking. It-cleft construction It was Mohsin who chased the thief. Pseudo-clefts What Mphil group brought in the classroom was a bottle of Pepsi.
Iterative adverbs Younas had fed up to do Mphil, again.Additive particles Naqvi had observed the phenomenon of language, too.Definite descriptions My dog had the flu.Certain quantifiers Dr Shehzad welcomed all the delegates from Oxford University.
Presuppositions are somehow independent of the conventional meaning and entailments expressed by a sentence Can be distinguished from entailments via various presupposition tests All tests involve some modification of the original sentence that changes the conventional meaning in some respect – what is left unaffected is a candidate for a presupposition
Negation Presuppositions are not affected by negation Sentential negation affects the conventional meaning (truth) of a sentence, but leaves presuppositions untouched e.g. Azam did not stop smoking. It was not Atif who ate all chocolate cookies. My dog does not have the flu.
Modals Presuppositions are not affected by modals Modals affect the modality of a sentence, i.e. its epistemic/ deontic /etc. status, but leave presupposition untouched E.g. Khan might regret that she cooked the rice. Perhaps Dr. Shehzad welcomed all delegates from the Oxford University
Questions Presuppositions are not affected by question formation Question formation affects the speech act (an assertion is changed to a question), but leave presuppositions untouched e.g. Does Shakeel regret that she cooked the rice? Has Azam stopped smoking?
Presupposition projection refers to the fact that larger constituents containing presupposition triggers inherit their presuppositions in certain way Shakeel started to learn Italian. Atif hopes that Shakeel started to learn Italian. Azam hopes that Shakeel started to learn Italian and he thinks of meeting him. All inherit the presupposition triggered by started. But Azam claims that Shakeel started to learn Italian. If Shakeel did not learn Italian before, he started to learn Italian. Do not presuppose that Shakeel did not learn Italian before (the moment of utterance).
PROJECTION PROBLEM In many cases presuppositions don’t survive to become the meaning of complex sentences. Why? They are “destroyed” by entailmentsThe entailments are more powerful of presuppositions
PROJECTION PROBLEMExamples:The unicorn is waiting in the garden. #Yet there are no unicorns. Entailment problemPat knows that the unicorn is waiting in the garden. #Yet there are no unicorns. Again entailment problem
An antipresupposition, like a presupposition, survives to negation…. An antipresupposition may be cancelled An antipresupposition is triggered by a lexical form, which is compared with a presuppositon trigger. A. A son of Shakeel’s is intelligent. B. The son of Shakeel’s is intelligent. Scale with presupposed contents: a < the A is an antipresupposition trigger / the is a presupposition trigger
Some sentences impose the condition that the interlocutors not take the truth of a certain proposition for granted (Percus, 2006): Either it will have to e taken for granted that the proposition in question is false, Or it will have to be an open issue whether the proposition is true or not.
In these cases, we might say that the sentence antipresupposes theproposition in question.Raheel thinks that Saba has a knowledge of cooking.Antipresupposes via <think, know>:Arif is repairing a chair in Azam’s living room.Antipresupposes via <a, the>:Azam has exactly one chair in his living roomAzhar assigned the same exercise to all of Adnan’s students.Antipresupposes via <all, both>:Adnan has exactly two students.