Chapter published in:Empirical Studies of the Construction of Discourse
Edited by Óscar Loureda, Inés Recio Fernández, Laura Nadal and Adriana Cruz
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 305] 2019
► pp. 253–270
Processing implicit and explicit causality in Spanish
As a basic discourse relation, causality can be made explicit by means of an argumentative connective, but it can also be implicitly expressed. In the latter case, experimental evidence shows that causality is highly predictable in discourse and can be easily inferred. Therefore, the question arises as to the actual contribution of causal connectives to utterance processing. We addressed this issue in an eye tracking reading experiment, and compared how the presence or absence of the Spanish causal connective por tanto affects processing in its role as procedural guide. The results suggest that making the connective explicit in a consecutive relation already inferable from the meaning of the lexical expressions in the utterances slows down processing. In this sense, the nature of connectives as procedural guides (Relevance Theory, see Blakemore 1987) might be nuanced, since the extent to which a connective determines processing varies depending on the type of discourse relation at issue.
Keywords: causal relations, implicit causality, explicit causality, connectives, processing, procedural meaning
Published online: 06 August 2019
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