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Title:Indirect Speech Acts
Authors: Nicholas Asher ; Alex Lascarides
Date: 2001
Publication Title:Synthese
Publication Type:Journal Article Publication Status:Published
Volume No:128(2) Page Nos:183-228
In this paper, we address several puzzles concerning speech acts, focussing in particular on indirect speech acts. We'll show how a formal semantic theory of discourse interpretation in fact renders superfluous an independent theory of speech acts. We'll abstract away from the language of actions, and recast the phenomena within the terminology of model-theoretic semantics. As part of this analysis, we examine the complex interactions among the wide variety of information sources that underly the interpretation of speech acts: compositional and lexical semantics, domain knowledge, and the cognitive states of the participants all play a central role. We provide a formally precise definition of indirect speech acts, including the subclass of so-called conventionalised indirect speech acts. This analysis draws heavily on complex semantic types, of the kind that have been used recently in work on lexical semantics. We argue that indirect speech acts are subject to a general principle of blocking or "preemption by synonomy": conventionalised indirect speech acts can block their `paraphrases' from being interpreted as indirect speech acts, even if this interpretation is calculable from Gricean-style principles of rationality and cooperativity. This forms another close link between interpretation processes at the lexical and discourse levels. We provide a formal model of speech act blocking, and compare this with existing accounts of lexical blocking.
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Bibtex format
author = { Nicholas Asher and Alex Lascarides },
title = {Indirect Speech Acts},
journal = {Synthese},
publisher = {Springer},
year = 2001,
volume = {128(2)},
pages = {183-228},
doi = {10.1023/A:1010340508140},
url = {,9,9;journal,50,98;linkingpublicationresults,1:103001,1},

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