The Pragmatics of Word Meaning

Alex Lascarides, Ann Copestake


In this paper, we explore the interaction between lexical semantics and pragmat­ics. Linguistic processing is nformationally encapsulated and utilises relatively simple 'taxonomic' lexical semantic knowledge. On this basis, defeasible lexical generalisations deliver defeasible parts of logical form. In contrast, pragmatics is open-ended and involves arbitrary knowledge. Two axioms specify when pragmatic defaults override lexical ones. We demonstrate that modelling this interaction al­lows us to achieve a more refined interpretation of words in a discourse context than either the lexicon or pragmatics could do on their own.

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