“ What are you saying he implied?” Inferring commitment from reported speech Patrick Morency, Steve Oswald and Louis de Sa...
Commitment and pragmatics <ul><li>Two main approaches to the notion of commitment: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Speech act theory...
Commitment as an inference <ul><li>Commitment is an assumption about the speaker’s (S) endorsement (or non-endorsement) of...
Commitment and the explicit/implicit distinction <ul><li>S can communicate  P  (a content), and her/his commitment to  P  ...
Current issues regarding the explicit/implicit distinction <ul><li>Many components of explicit meaning (i.e. which suppose...
Commitment in indirect reported speech <ul><li>Reported speech involves a high degree of complexity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>...
Types of prefatory expressions <ul><li>verbs (and locutions) that give evidence of RS’s explicature processing and reporti...
Evidence of RS’s explicature processing and reporting (1): direct reported speech <ul><li>The simplest of all cases (Laszl...
Evidence of RS’s explicature processing and reporting (2): indirect reported speech <ul><li>Cases of explicature processin...
Inferring commitment from evidence of a report <ul><li>If RS’s utterance carries quotation marks, it is a 100% full report...
Evidence of RS’s implicature processing and interpreting (1) <ul><li>RS can present  P  as her/his own interpretation: </l...
Evidence of RS’s implicature processing and interpreting (2) <ul><li>RS can present her/his own interpretation through cer...
Inferring commitment from evidence of an interpretation <ul><li>These verbs and expressions are explicit markers of implic...
Implicit attitudinals with evidence of an interpretation <ul><li>When RS presents  P  as an interpretation, he can also co...
Commitment and belief fixation <ul><li>What is the point of inferring OS’s commitment in reported speech? </li></ul><ul><u...
Work in progress: further research <ul><li>Corpus-based analyses of press articles displaying reported speech </li></ul><u...
References <ul><li>Burton-Roberts, N, (2006), Cancellation and Intention. Newcastle University. Pdf file: Http://www.ncl.a...
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What are you saying he implied? Inferring commitment from reported speech

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Presentation meade at the conference on commitment in language, University of Antwerp, April 2007. By Patrick Morency, Steve Oswald and Louis de Saussure

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What are you saying he implied? Inferring commitment from reported speech

  1. 1. “ What are you saying he implied?” Inferring commitment from reported speech Patrick Morency, Steve Oswald and Louis de Saussure University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
  2. 2. Commitment and pragmatics <ul><li>Two main approaches to the notion of commitment: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Speech act theory (following Searle 1969): commitment concerns illocutionary force </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitive pragmatics (Sperber & Wilson [1986] 1995; Carston 2000, 2002): commitment as a criterion for explicit contents </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Commitment as the result of an inference drawn by the hearer (H) </li></ul><ul><li>Commitment in reported speech </li></ul>
  3. 3. Commitment as an inference <ul><li>Commitment is an assumption about the speaker’s (S) endorsement (or non-endorsement) of a content: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ commitment refers to what the speaker can be said to have ‘taken for granted’ in making his or her utterance” (Dascal 2003: 160) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> that from which S cannot retract her/himself </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> that which is evident, obvious, manifest, to the hearer H </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But in fact it might be more complex </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Inferring commitment is: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>inferring that S holds P to be true </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>derived pragmatically on the basis of the linguistic stimulus </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Commitment and the explicit/implicit distinction <ul><li>S can communicate P (a content), and her/his commitment to P at the same time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>explicit contents </li></ul></ul><ul><li>S can also communicate contents about which s/he does not communicate her/his commitment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>implicit contents </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This is the heuristic basis for the traditional explicit/implicit content distinction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>defeasibility criterion of implicatures (cf. Grice) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>logical criterion: there should be no contradictory information in an utterance </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Current issues regarding the explicit/implicit distinction <ul><li>Many components of explicit meaning (i.e. which suppose speaker’s commitment) are left unexpressed by the speaker </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ellipsis of logical forms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>other types of unarticulated constituents (Perry 1986) such as hidden indexicals (Recanati 2000) “It’s raining” (‘here’ and ‘now’) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Examples (Carston 2000, 2002): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Paracetamol is better [than what?] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mary gave John a pen and he wrote down the address [and then] </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Commitment in indirect reported speech <ul><li>Reported speech involves a high degree of complexity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2 speech instances – original speaker (OS) and reporting speaker (RS) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Who commits to which content? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>as RS’s metarepresentation of OS’s utterance, the embedded clause can be anything ranging from a faithful report to a risky interpretation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Preface (in its broad meaning, including preface modifiers) is determinant: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There are linguistic expressions, used as prefaces, that inform H on the explicit/implicit nature of the original representation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This has consequences on H’s inferences on commitment </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Types of prefatory expressions <ul><li>verbs (and locutions) that give evidence of RS’s explicature processing and reporting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>say/acknowledge/affirm/maintain/declare/add/ announce/answer/assert/deny/divulge… that P </li></ul></ul><ul><li>verbs (and locutions) that give evidence of RS’s implicature processing and interpreting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>imply/hint/mean/insinuate/intimate/… that P </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unmarked verbs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>admit/recognize </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Verbs of thought / psychological prefaces </li></ul><ul><ul><li>think/believe/consider </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Evidence of RS’s explicature processing and reporting (1): direct reported speech <ul><li>The simplest of all cases (Laszlo said: “ P ”): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Laszlo said: “I’ll come” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Laszlo said, word for word, that he would come </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In this case, P , the embedded clause, is presented as matching OS’s original utterance </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>H infers that OS explicitly said P , so RS’s utterance is a faithful report </li></ul><ul><li>Consequently, H infers that OS is strongly committed to P </li></ul><ul><ul><li>as a repercussion, H infers that RS is strongly committed to the fact that OS is strongly committed to P </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consider the oddness of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>?In my opinion, Laszlo said he would come </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Evidence of RS’s explicature processing and reporting (2): indirect reported speech <ul><li>Cases of explicature processing: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Laszlo said he would come [at location x] </li></ul></ul><ul><li>H infers that either OS actually said P or that he said something very close to P , i.e. that P ’s explicatures resemble (Wilson 2000) the explicatures of OS’s original utterance </li></ul><ul><li>Compare the explicatures of the following: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I’ll come” [at location x] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I’ll be there” [at location x] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Yes” (answering the question “will you come?”) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We assume these yield the same explicatures, which match the explicatures of P , as in (3) </li></ul><ul><li>Inferences on commitment match those of (1) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Inferring commitment from evidence of a report <ul><li>If RS’s utterance carries quotation marks, it is a 100% full report </li></ul><ul><ul><li>H can infer OS’s commitment to P since P is what OS uttered </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If the lexical semantics of the prefatory verb indicates explicature processing, H will also be able to assess OS’s commitment to her/his original utterance, since this original utterance shares the same explicatures as P </li></ul><ul><li>The resemblance between explicatures is prompted by the (semantically encoded) evidence of a report </li></ul>
  11. 11. Evidence of RS’s implicature processing and interpreting (1) <ul><li>RS can present P as her/his own interpretation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Laszlo implied/hinted that he would come </li></ul></ul><ul><li>H is led to infer that P is the result of implicature processing, by RS, of OS’s original utterance </li></ul><ul><li>H is led to infer that, as an implicature, P resembles the implicatures derivable from OS’s original utterance </li></ul><ul><li>There is no assumption about any resemblance between explicatures by virtue of the inaccessibility to the original utterance </li></ul>
  12. 12. Evidence of RS’s implicature processing and interpreting (2) <ul><li>RS can present her/his own interpretation through certain modifiers: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Laszlo said that he would come, but he said it implicitly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ implicitly’ modifies the verb to make it adopt the property of presenting P as an interpretation of OS’s original utterance </li></ul><ul><li>(8) shows a loose use of ‘said’, which would explain its slight oddness </li></ul>
  13. 13. Inferring commitment from evidence of an interpretation <ul><li>These verbs and expressions are explicit markers of implicitness; their lexical semantics denotes that P is the result of implicature processing </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, H cannot directly assess OS’s commitment to P </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Since P is an interpretation of OS’s original utterance, OS can always retract from having committed to P </li></ul></ul><ul><li>However, RS’s interpretation communicates that RS believes that OS is actually committed to P , even if OS cannot be held liable for the content of P (2 nd hand assessment of commitment) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Implicit attitudinals with evidence of an interpretation <ul><li>When RS presents P as an interpretation, he can also communicate a certain attitude towards P </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Laszlo implicitly admitted he cheated on Nina </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Laszlo explicitly admitted he cheated on Nina </li></ul></ul><ul><li>With ‘admit that P ’ alone, H has no way of determining whether P is a report or an interpretation (Saussure, forth.) </li></ul><ul><li>H can only make risky speculations about OS’s original utterance </li></ul><ul><li>However, H can infer RS’s attitude towards P : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The interpretation that Laszlo admitted he cheated on Nina means that he had to cancel other (possibly contradictory) assumptions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Admit P seems to carry not only a presupposition that P is true, but also that P is inappropriate for some or all of the concerned individuals, in particular the hearer (the grounds for attitude recovery). </li></ul>
  15. 15. Commitment and belief fixation <ul><li>What is the point of inferring OS’s commitment in reported speech? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Having reliable information about what is being discussed (especially in cases of risk communication, e.g. the bird flu) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Having access to the source’s (OS) beliefs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Having good grounds to evaluate what is being discussed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In some sensitive contexts, such as press reports, it is likely that the inference of the journalist’s opinion about the OS has to do with the audience’s belief fixation (the journalist is often presupposed a competent and benevolent speaker). </li></ul>
  16. 16. Work in progress: further research <ul><li>Corpus-based analyses of press articles displaying reported speech </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Importance of prefatory expressions and their modifiers in H’s interpretation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Varieties of cognitive effects derived on the basis of unmarked prefaces (that do not give evidence of a report nor of an interpretation) TROP LARGE - SUPPRIMER </li></ul><ul><li>Status of psychological verbs: think/believe/know… that P </li></ul><ul><li>The explicature/implicature distinction IDEM </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of effects yielded by tenses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>My dad says there were a lot of people at the wedding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>My dad is saying there were a lot of people at the wedding </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Inferring speaker’s commitment to P is a matter of linguistic and contextual information: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>deontic verbs: “Paul said it’s time for us to go” seems to carry easily the implicature that the speaker commits himself to P </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. References <ul><li>Burton-Roberts, N, (2006), Cancellation and Intention. Newcastle University. Pdf file: Http://www.ncl.ac.uk/elll/research/papers/Cancellation%20and%20intention.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>Carston, R, (2002), Thoughts and Utterances: The Pragmatics of Explicit Communication, Blackwell, Oxford. </li></ul><ul><li>Carston, R, (2004), « Relevance Theory and the saying/implicating distinction, in Horn, L. & Ward, G. (eds), Handbook of Pragmatics. Oxford: Blackwell. </li></ul><ul><li>Moeschler, J. & Saussure, L. de (2002), “Pragmatique du discours et interprétation”, in Roulet, E., Burger, M. Les modèles du discours au défi d’un « dialogue romanesque » : l’incipit du roman de R. Pinget : Le Libera, Presses Universitaires de Nancy, Nancy, 379-402. </li></ul><ul><li>Récanati, F., (2000), Oratio recta, oratio obliqua: an Essay on Metarepresentation, MIT Press, London. </li></ul><ul><li>Saussure, L. de, (forth.), “Implicatures et métareprésentations en contexte de presse écrite”, in Béguelin M.-J., Bonhomme M. & Lugrin G., Intertextualité et interdiscours dans les médias, TRANEL. </li></ul><ul><li>Sperber, D. (ed), (2000), Metarepresentations: a multidisciplinary approach, Oxford University Press, New York. </li></ul><ul><li>Sperber, D. & Wilson, D., (1995), Relevance: Communication and Cognition, 2nd ed., Blackwell, Oxford. </li></ul><ul><li>Wilson, Deirdre. 2000. “Metarepresentation in linguistic communication”. In D. Sperber (ed.) Metarepresentations. Oxford University Press, 411-448. Version (pdf) published in (1999) UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 11: 127-161. </li></ul><ul><li>Wilson, D. (2003), “New Directions for Research on Pragmatics and Modularity”, UCL Working Papers in Linguistics, 15, 303-324. </li></ul>

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