Embedding Irony, and the Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction

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Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

This paper argues that we need to re-think the semantics/pragmatics distinction in the light of new evidence from embedding of irony. This raises a new version of the old problem of ‘embedded implicatures’. I argue that embedded irony isn’t fully explained by solutions proposed for other embedded implicatures. I first consider two strategies: weak pragmatics and strong pragmatics. These explain embedded irony as truth-conditional content. However, by trying to shoehorn irony into said-content, they raise problems of their own. I conclude by considering how a modified Gricean model can explain that irony embeds qua implicature. This leads us to prefer a local implicature model. This has important consequences for how we draw the semantics/pragmatics distinction.

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalInquiry
Early online date2 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Mar 2018

Keywords

  • embedded irony, embedding, truth-conditional compositionality, embedded implicatures, local implicatures, semantics/pragmatics distinction