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Description - Sense and Sensitivity by David I. Beaver

Sense and Sensitivity explores the semantic and pragmatic effects of focus in natural language discourse. The book concentrates on focus sensitivity, the remarkable dependency some words have on the effects of focus. An example is "only": compare "She only LIKES me" (i.e. nothing deeper) to "She only likes ME" (i.e. nobody else). Such interactions between sound and meaning highlight the importance of focus as an interface topic in contemporary linguistic theory, and the book presents results that will be of interest across the gamut of linguistic subfields from phonetics and phonology through syntax, semantics, pragmatics and discourse studies. The centerpiece of the book is a new account of focus sensitivity, the QFC theory, which involves a three-way distinction between different effects of focus: Quasi association, a special type of pragmatic inference; Free association, the resolution of a free variable; and Conventional association, a grammatical dependency on the current question under discussion. Prior to this new account, it had generally been assumed that focus is a uniform phenomenon; Beaver and Clark refute this with a series of new diagnostic tests, a detailed study of how focus sensitive expressions behave in Germanic and Romance languages, and the first theory of the meaning of exclusives (like "only", "just", and "merely") that explains their focus sensitivity in terms of their meaning and function in dialogue.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781405112642
ISBN-10: 1405112646
Format: Paperback
(244mm x 172mm x 18mm)
Pages: 328
Imprint: Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd)
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Publish Date: 1-Aug-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - David I. Beaver

David I. Beaver is Associate Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Presupposition and Assertion in Dynamic Semantics (2001); is co-editor of several books, including The Construction of Meaning (2002); has authored numerous articles for prestigious journals including Linguistics and Philosophy, and Language; is on the editorial team or board of all the three leading journals in semantics; and is co-founder of a new open access journal, Semantics and Pragmatics, supported by the Linguistic Society of America. Brady Z. Clark is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Northwestern University and a faculty member at the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems. He is co-editor (with Beaver, Casillas-Martinez, and Kaufmann) of The Construction of Meaning (2002). He has published in journals including Natural Language Semantics and Language, on topics ranging from semantics to historical syntax and tutorial dialogue systems.

Books By David I. Beaver

Sense and Sensitivity by David I. Beaver
Hardback, September 2008
Words, Proofs and Diagrams by David I. Beaver
Paperback, July 2002