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Title: Logical structure and relevance : on the context dependence of argument structure
Author: Assimakopoulos, Stavros
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis sets out to investigate mentalist pragmatics and its contribution to the study of the human cognitive capacity to develop linguistic abilities. Implementing the inferential view of communication that Relevance Theory endorses, it is indicated that the inferential processes that are involved in instances of linguistic usage are far more pervasive than already thought both within and outside the framework. Differentiating between the cognitive notion of maximal relevance and the communicative one of optimal relevance, it is argued that relevance considerations, in the two corresponding technical senses of the term, play a decisive role in the processes of context selection, communicated meaning attribution and argument realisation. More specifically, it is initially suggested that the hypothesis that human cognition tends to be geared towards maximal relevance can provide significant insights into the ways contextual information is selectively accessed in interpretation. Then, the semantics/pragmatics distinction is readdressed from a radically pragmatist perspective and a case is made for a ‘looser’ context-dependent semantics that provides the basis upon which interpretation occurs at both the lexical and – a fortiori – the propositional level. Furthermore, the organisation of the mental lexicon is discussed in this new setting where relevance constraints guide both the storage and employment of conceptual content that is used in communication. Against this background, a relevance-theoretic approach to problems that theories of argument structure face is provided in an attempt to account for the various patterns of argument realisation certain verbs customarily present. Overall, this research aims to shed light to the particulars mediating the contribution of context with respect to the usage of language, but also – and more crucially – reveal its significance in relation to the organisation of linguistic knowledge as a cognitive capacity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available