Gutzmann, Daniel. 2014. Semantics vs. pragmatics. Submitted to: Matthewson, Lisa & C├ęcile Meier & Rotze Rullmann & Ede Zimmermann (eds.): The Semantics Companion. Oxford: Wiley.


Semantics and pragmatics overlap in their scope as they both deal with the meaning of linguistic expressions. Since semantics can be viewn as an abstraction from pragmatics, the question of what divides them thus becomes as well a question of what the scope of semantics should be. Traditionally, three features haven been suggested to define semantic content and delimit it from pragmatics: semantics content is truth-conditional, conventional, and constant. However there are only two cases in which the three criteria line up. Literal meaning is characterized by all of them, while conversational implicatures exhibits none. We then examine all other six possible combinations of the three features. This will lead to a typology of kinds of meaning which then raises then question of which of the features seems to be best suited to draw classify these eight kinds and draw the lines between semantics. I argue that a semantics based on conventions is both the conceptually the most reasonable choice for a defining feature and the line it draws between semantics and pragmatics that converges with the practice in theoretical and empirical linguistic research.

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