Pragmatics and word meaning

Alex Lascarides, Ann Copestake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In this paper, we explore the interaction between lexical semantics and pragmatics. We argue that linguistic processing is informationally encapsulated and utilizes relatively simple ‘taxonomic’ lexical semantic knowledge. On this basis, defeasible lexical generalisations deliver defeasible parts of logical form. In contrast, pragmatic inference is open-ended and involves arbitrary real-world 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-414
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998


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