The social component of the projection behavior of clausal complement contents

Taylor Mahler


Some accounts of presupposition projection predict that content's consistency with the Common Ground influences whether it projects (e.g., Heim 1983, Gazdar 1979a,b). I conducted an experiment to test whether Common Ground information about the speaker's social identity influences projection of clausal complement contents (CCs). Participants rated the projection of CCs conveying liberal or conservative political positions when the speaker was either Democrat- or Republican-affiliated. As expected, CCs were more projective when they conveyed political positions consistent with the speaker's political affiliation: liberal CCs were more projective with Democrat compared to Republican speakers, and conservative CCs were more projective with Republican compared to Democrat speakers. In addition, CCs associated with factive predicates (e.g., know) were more projective than those associated with non-factive predicates (e.g., believe). These findings suggest that social meaning influences projective meaning and that social meaning is constrained by semantic meaning, in line with previous research on the relation between other levels of linguistic structure/perception and social information.


presupposition; projection; factivity; social meaning

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