On the Presuppositional Behavior of Coherence-Driven Pragmatic Enrichments

Andrew Kehler, Jonathan Cohen


When interpreting a sentence such as Every time the company fires an employee who comes in late, a union complaint is lodged, an addressee is likely to infer that the union will only complain when an employee is fired because he came in late. One is thus led to ask why a purely pragmatic enrichment of this sort -- one drawn despite no risk of interpretative failure nor other linguistic mandate -- would intrude upon truth conditions. We argue that this effect results from the interaction among three pragmatic phenomena: presupposition, the associative mechanisms that underlie the establishment of coherence in discourse, and the calculation of domain restriction for quantificational operators. Because the analysis does not consider the operative enrichments to be species of implicature, we claim that such cases do not represent an intrusion of implicature into truth-conditional content. Instead, they merely involve the context-dependent determination of quantificational domains.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/salt.v26i0.3945