Semantics, Pragmatics, and Reference

Kent Bach

in Thought and Reference

Published in print February 1994 | ISBN: 9780198240778
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680267 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Semantics, Pragmatics, and Reference

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For both singular terms and sentences containing them, we should take care not to confuse the theory of their meaning with the theory of their use. We should avoid trying to explain their pragmatic properties semantically. Grammar is complex enough without letting it be further complicated by phenomena which can be explained independently with the help of general pragmatic principles. For example, when an expression has two uses, if we can explain one use in terms of the other pragmatically, we can regard just the one use as literal and avoid taking the expression to be (semantically) ambiguous. We should keep the semantics of sentences containing singular terms separate from the pragmatics of their use. This chapter draws certain distinctions, terminological and otherwise, to help us keep them separate. It then explains more fully the rationale of keeping them separate. The various distinctions to be drawn here will not only sharpen the boundary between semantics and pragmatics but also enable us to understand the connections between them.

Keywords: semantics; meaning; pragmatics; grammar; singular terms

Chapter.  7667 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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