Focus: A Case Study on the semantics-pragmatics Boundary

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This chapter compares three distinct conceptions of the distinction between semantics and pragmatics, and argues that one of them best represents the practice of semantic theorists. According to it, the semantic content of a sentence relative to a context is given by the content of the parts of that sentence, relative to a context, and their combination. Along the way the chapter argues that there is no need to posit meanings of whole sentences in addition to the propositions they express, relative to a context of use. It then defends a robust conception of the scope of semantic explanations, by considering the phenomenon of 'pragmatic intrusion', which suggests that what seem to be pragmatic implicatures affect what is said. A more sophisticated understanding of the semantics of conditionals, together with an appreciation of the effects of focus, explains this data without compromising the view that what is said by such sentences is the semantic content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSemantics versus Pragmatics
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191719165
ISBN (Print)9780199251520
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Character
  • Context sensitivity
  • Conversational implcature
  • Pragmatic enrichment
  • Pragmatic intrusion
  • Pragmatics
  • Saclar implicature
  • Semantic content
  • Semantics


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