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Title: Anaphora, Relevance and the Conceptual/Procedural Distinction.
Author: Hedley, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0000 4736 5358
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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Pronominal anaphora is a phenomenon that has been studied from many different perspectives and within many different theoretical frameworks, with varying levels of success. Approaching the problem from the cognitive perspective of relevance theory, this work applies the fundamental distinction between 'conceptual' (representational) and 'procedural' (computational) linguistic meaning, in order to account for the myriad different instantiations of such anaphoric phenomena in English. It is proposed that pronouns are fundamentally procedural in nature, following Wilson & Sperber (1993:20), forming part of an underspecified linguistic representation needing substantial pragmatic enrichment to reach propositionality. Guided by the overarching principle of relevance (Sperber and Wilson 1986/95), it is argued that speakers typically resolve such reference pragmatically as part of the relevance-theoretic comprehension procedure, drawing information from many possible sources in the process. Pronominals are thus seen as 'linguistically encoded means for constraining the interpretation process' (Blakemore 2000: 472), contributing (in their resolved state) to the explicature(s) of the sentence, and so to the proposition expressed, and its truth conditions. This approach is then extended to provide a reasoned account of the occurrence of sloppiness (and the continua of acceptance associated with it) in such pronominal use. It is claimed that pronominal forms are not the misfits that many theorists have assumed, but that they integrate fully into the linguistic fabric, their interpretation taking place through the application of the same mechanisms as other linguistic processing. The ramifications of such an approach for issues of cognitive architecture are also explored. Parallels are then drawn between the theoretical notion of procedural meaning, and potentially analogous elements in computer programming, alongside correlates in the worlds of psychology and cognitive science.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available