Event Detail

Thu Nov 19, 2015
3401 Dwinelle Hall, 4–6 PM
Meaning Sciences Club
Jessica Rett (UCLA)
Attitude Markers and Sincerity Conditions in an Update Semantics

This paper explores a compositional semantic treatment of ‘attitude markers’: morphemes or prosodic structure that speakers use to express their attitude towards the semantic content of their utterance, including the English alas or fortunately, exclamation intonation and at least some mirative markers across languages. I begin by arguing that, while attitude markers encode not-at-issue content, their meaning is part of the illocutionary content of an utterance, in contrast to expressives, appositives, and other encoders of conventional implicature (Potts, 2005, 2007). I conclude, following Searle and Vanderveken (1985) and Vanderveken (1990), that attitude markers are illocutionary force modifiers: they restrict the sincerity conditions encoded in illocutionary mood markers.

If this is right, attitude markers constitute compelling evidence that sincerity conditions must be treated in compositional accounts of illocutionary content. To do so, I co-opt a recent theoretical innovation in accounts of update semantics: I argue that sincerity conditions, and therefore the content of attitude markers, can be modeled in theories in which utterances can update a speaker’s discourse commitment set as well as the common ground (Gunlogson, 2001; Farkas and Bruce, 2010).