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Auteur: Jacques MOESCHLER

The logical foundation of pragmatic meaning: Arguments from logical words

Abstract/Résumé: The relation between logic and language is an old topic. Several explanations have been proposed in the last decades, the most well-known being the so-called formalist approach (Gazdar) and the non-formalist one (Ducrot). What is of strong relevant is that Grice, in the first pages of 'Logic and Conversation', has proposed to disentangle the a priori incompatibility in meaning and formal properties between the logical devices (quantifiers, connectives and negation) and their counterparts in natural meaning. In a nutshell, the pragmatic (Gricean) approach gives as a semantics for logical words their logical meaning and explain their pragmatic meaning by implicatures, that is, a process of non-demonstrative inference implying a general principle (the principle of cooperation) and the use of maxims of conversation (quantity, quality, relation and manner). This approach has been strongly argued for in most of pragmatic frameworks, and more specifically in Relevance Theory (see Carston's 'Utterances and Thoughts'), as regards the description of negation for instance, and in Horn's description of negation and quantifiers. However, if the description of the semantics and the pragmatics of logical words is sound on the neo-Gricean and post-Gricean approaches, few attention has been given to the reason why such a discrepancy is the case. In other words, the relation between the semantics and the pragmatics of logical words is stated, but not explained. However, some linguistic observations could help: either pragmatic meaning is a restriction on the logical meaning (disjunction, conditional, negation) or it is an expansion, that is a more specific and non-truth-conditional meaning (coordination). In this communication, I will give a general cognitive interpretation of these more specific pragmatic meanings. In other words, logical words have in their semantics logical properties allowing to insure valid inference; their pragmatics, on the contrary, deserves different pragmatic functions, which are not devoted to reasoning, but to argumentation and implicit meaning. Negation, existential quantifiers, and conjunction will illustrate the way logic and language interact in meaning.