'Non-truth-conditional' meaning, relevance and concessives
This thesis is concerned with the semantic function of linguistic elements which do not seem to contribute to the truth conditions of an utterance, that is, with 'non-truth-conditional' linguistic devices. The first part of the thesis is devoted to theoretical considerations, while the second part concentrates on 'concessive' linguistic devices, which form a sub-class of 'non-truth-conditional' expressions. The first chapter outlines the way in which traditional semantic theories have employed the notion of truth conditions to capture linguistic meaning and a series of problems with this approach are pointed out. The chapter ends with an overview of 'non-truth-conditional' linguistic devices. Chapter 2 is concerned with ways in which fundamentally truth-conditional theories of linguistic semantics have attempted to accommodate such expressions in their frameworks. In chapter 3, the discussion focuses on Argumentation Theory, which does not just accommodate non-truth-conditional meaning but, ultimately, treats all linguistic meaning in non-truth-conditional terms and leads to the untenable conclusion that the general intuition that utterances can give information about the world is an illusion. This is followed by a chapter devoted to Sperber & Wilson's cognitive Relevance Theory. It is argued that this theory offers an ideal framework for a semantic analysis of 'truth-conditional' and 'non-truth-conditional' expressions alike, while avoiding the problems encountered by other theories. The next three chapters investigate the nature of linguistic 'concessivity' and provide a critical survey of existing analyses of three specific 'concessive' devices: but, although, and even if. In each case, an original relevance-theoretic analysis in procedural terms is proposed. In the last chapter, the possibility of purely pragmatic (that is, unencoded) 'concessive' interpretations is explored, and, finally, the role of the concept of 'truth-conditional content' in a theory of utterance interpretation is reassessed.