“Speakers usually design
their linguistic messages on
the basis of assumptions of
what their hearers already
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 1
• Pragmatics is the study
of deixis, implicature,
acts, and aspects of
Stephen C. Levinson
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 2
Two aspects of what is
communicated but not said
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 3
something the speaker
assumes to be the
case prior to make an
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 4
•Speakers, not sentences,
symbolized as >> .
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 5
• if someone tells you:
1. “ your brother is waiting outside for you”,
• there is an obvious supposition that you
have a brother.
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 6
2) a. Kepler died in misery
b. Kepler did not die in misery.
The notion of presupposition is generally traced
back to German mathematician, logician and
philosopher, Gottlob Frege (1848-1925), who
noted in Frege (1952) that both (2a) and (2b)
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 7
English philosopher, Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)
argued against this view in Russell (1905). He was
concerned with the fact that (3) is meaningful, whether
or not there actually is a King of France.
3) The King of France is wise.
He proposed that this involves three assertions.
There exists an x such that
a) x is a King of France
b) there is no other entity that is a King of France
c) x is wise
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 8
• In any language, there are some
expressions or constructions
which can act as the sources of
presuppositions. This kind of
expressions or constructions is
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 9
Examples with presupposition triggers
(1) Definitive descriptions
• John saw the man with two heads >> There exists a man with two heads.
(2) Factive verbs
• John realized that he was in debt >> John was in debt.
(3) Change of state verbs
• Joan began to beat her husband >> Joan hadn’t been beating her husband.
• The flying saucer came again >> The flying saucer came before.
(5) Temporal clauses
• while Chomsky was revolutionizing linguistics, the rest of social science asleep
>> Chomsky was revolutionizing linguistics.
(6) Cleft sentences
• It was Henry who killed Rose >> Someone killed Rose.
(7) Comparisons and contrasts
• Carol is a better linguist than Barbara >> Barbara is a linguist.
• The negative form of the above sentences has the same presupposition.
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 10
The relationship between two propositions:
Mary’s cat is cute. (p)
Mary has a cat. (q)
p >>q = p presupposes q
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If the speaker denies the
proposition p (NOT p), the
presupposition q doesn’t
Mary’s cat isn’t cute. (NOT p)
Mary has a cat. (q)
Not p >>q = Not p presupposes q
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Types of Presupposition
Presuppositions are associated with the use
of a large number of
These linguistic forms are considered as
indicators of potential presupposition,
which can only become actual
presupposition in contexts with speakers.
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 13
1- Existential presupposition:
Entities named by the speaker
and assumed to be present
- noun phrase.
- possessive constructions.
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 14
noun phrase :
quot;The Cold War has endedquot;
presupposes that the
existence of the entities
it refers to, in this case
the quot;Cold Warquot;.
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 15
possessive constructions :
“Tony’s car is new”
we can presuppose
that Tony exists and
that he has a car.
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2- Factive presupposition:
identified by the presence of some verbs such as quot;know“, quot;realize“,
“be glad”, “be sorry”, etc.
(>> He was ill)
She didn’t realize he was ill.
(>> We told him)
We regret telling him.
I wasn’t aware that she was married. (>> She was married)
(>> He left early)
It isn’t odd that he left early.
(>> It’s over)
I’m glad that it’s over.
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 17
3- Lexical presupposition:
In using one word, the speaker can act as if another
meaning will be understood. For instance:
Mary stopped running. (>>She used to run.)
You are late again. (>> You were late before.)
Are you still such a bad driver? (>> You were a bad driver)
quot;stop“, quot;again“ “still” are taken to presuppose another
( ) concept.
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4- Structural presupposition:
it is the assumption associated with the use of certain
- 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 is
necessarily true, or intended as true by the speaker..
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5- Non- factive presupposition:
it is an assumption referred to something
that is not true.
For example, verbs like quot;dreamquot;, quot;imaginequot;
and quot;pretendquot; are used with the
presupposition that what follows is not true.
I dreamed that I was rich.
(>> I was not rich)
We imagined that we were in London.
(>> We were not in London)
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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
If you were my daughter, I would not allow you to do this.
( >> you are not my daughter)
If I were rich I would buy a Ferrari.
(>> I’m not rich)
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Entailment is not a pragmatic
It is defined as what logically follows
from what is asserted in the
utterance, symbolized by II-.
Sentences, not speakers, have
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 22
Speakers have presuppositions while
sentences have entailments.
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; a house, and other similar logical
consequences, now she has 2 houses. The entailments
are communicated without being said and are not
dependent on the speaker’s intention.
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1) a. The King of France is bald.
b. There is a King of France.
c. The King of France is not bald.
If X entails Y, the negative counterpart of X does not
entail Y. (2a) entails (2b), but (2c) does not.
The President of Polvenia is a bachelor. ENTAILMENTS
b. The President of Polvenia is unmarried.
c. The President of Polvenia is not a bachelor.
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1)Rover chased three squirrels.
a) Something chased three squirrels.
b) Rover did something to three squirrels.
c) Rover chased of something.
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The speaker will necessarily produce a
very large number of background
entailments, but the speaker will indicate
how these entailments are to be ordered.
by using special structures
The hearer will understand which entailment is
assumed to be more important for interpreting
Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar 26
THE FOREGROUND ENTAILMENT
BOB ate three sandwiches.
Bob ATE three sandwiches.
Bob ate THREE sandwiches.
Bob ate three SANDWICHES.
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It-cleft construction/cleft sentences
a) It was that did the work.
b) It wasn’t who took your jacket.
Cleft sentences are used to help us focus on a
particular part of the sentence and to
emphasise what we want to say … Because
there are two parts … they are called cleft
(from the verb cleave) which means divided
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• Cleft sentences are particularly useful in
writing where we cannot use intonation
for purposes of focus or emphasis, but
they are also frequently used in speech.
• Cleft structures include the reason why,
the thing that, the person/people who,
the place where, the day when and
what-clauses which are usually linked to
the clause that we want to focus on
with is or was.
• From: BBC World service
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Presuppositions vs. entailments
Presuppositions are different from entailments:
1) She hasn’t stopped smoking.
She used to smoke.
2) My dog didn’t eat my bag.
I have a dog, and I (still, it seems) have a bag.
The emperor wasn’t assassinated.
Does not entail any more
XXXXXX 1)Someone was assassinated.
XXXXXX2)The emperor died.
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