Non-Sentential Utterances in Conversation

Jonathan Ginzburg

in The Interactive Stance

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199697922
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738425 | DOI:
Non-Sentential Utterances in Conversation

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This chapter integrates material from earlier chapters in an attempt to provide a comprehensive treatment of the meaning and use underlying non sentential utterances (NSUs), primarily in English, but with occasional cross-linguistic glances. A taxonomy of NSUs is described and the results from a corpus study of the BNC using this taxonomy are provided. The rest of the chapter provides analyses of prominent members of the taxonomy: ‘Yes’, ‘No’, short answers, sluicing (and its various subclasses), and reprise fragments. The chapter provides detailed argumentation against a number of existing approaches to NSUs, approaches in which NSU resolution is associated with a single, typically extra-grammatical mechanism. This combines fairly standard linguistic argumentation — for instance, pointing to various syntactic and semantic divergences between NSUs and their putative sentential correlates — as well as issues of scalability and developmental evidence. The basic analysis developed for incorporating NSUs in the grammar is constructionist, constructions where context rather than syntax drives interpretation. From a semantic point of view, the approach developed here is one that treats NSUs essentially as indexicals relative to the Dialogue GameBoard. The basic claim embodied in this view is that, given a detailed, precise, and, independently motivated theory of dialogue context, the theory of NSUs is actually relatively simple.

Keywords: non sentential utterances; ellipsis; sententialism; sluicing; fragments

Chapter.  16373 words. 

Subjects: Psycholinguistics

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