Chapter published in:Implicitness: From lexis to discourse
Edited by Piotr Cap and Marta Dynel
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 276] 2017
► pp. 67–94
Implicitness in the lexis
Lexical narrowing and neo-Gricean pragmatics
This article is dedicated to the memory of Associate Professor Frantisek Lichtenberk (1945–2015), my Auckland colleague and friend, and a distinguished scholar in the field of Oceanic languages and linguistics.In this chapter, I present a neo-Gricean pragmatic analysis of lexical narrowing. By lexical narrowing is meant the phenomenon of implicitness whereby the use of a lexical item conveys a meaning that is more specific than the lexical expression’s lexically encoded meaning. Lexical narrowing can be grouped into two types: (i) Q-based and (ii) R/I-based. In the first type, the use of a semantically weaker lexical item in a set of contrastive semantic alternates Q-implicates the negation of the meaning associated with that of the semantically stronger lexical item in the same set. In the second, the use of a semantically general lexical expression I-implicates a semantically more specific sense. Finally, I argue that the pragmatic enrichment involving lexical narrowing is nothing but a neo-Gricean, ‘pre-semantic’ conversational implicature.
Keywords: lexical narrowing, lexical/semantic underspecification, pragmatic enrichment, neo-Gricean lexical pragmatics, pre-semantic conversational
Published online: 30 June 2017
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