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«Indicators and procedures : nevertheless and but1 DIANE BLAKEMORE University of Salford (Received  August  ; revised  January ...»

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According to this analysis, so encodes the information that the hearer should perform an inference in which the utterance it prefaces is a conclusion derived from an assumption which is made accessible by processing information assumed to be mutually manifest (in this case by the preceding utterance). Thus described so constrains relevance by directly specifying the kind of effect that is intended – in this case, the derivation of a contextual implication. It is true that a hearer recognizes that he is expected to access a particular set of contextual assumptions for the interpretation of the so utterance, namely, one which includes the assumption in ().

() If someone can open somebody else’s safe, then they must know the combination.

However, according to my () analysis, this is a consequence of the constraint so imposes on contextual effects. The hearer of () is expected to access those contextual assumptions which enable him to interpret the second segment as a conclusion derived from the proposition expressed by the first.

Similarly, it would seem that according to the analysis I have outlined in the preceding section, but is a constraint on contextual effects and imposes a     constraint on contexts only derivatively. Thus the hearer of () (repeated below) is expected to access those contextual assumptions which allow him to interpret the second segment as communicating (that is, explicating or implicating) a proposition that contradicts a proposition derived from the first, and thus leads to its elimination.

() She’s a linguist, but she’s quite intelligent.

The question is whether every expression which constrains implicit content does this by encoding a constraint on contextual effects. In an earlier paper (Blakemore ) I argued that the use of nevertheless in fragmentary utterances suggests that it should be treated in procedural rather than conceptual terms. In the following section I compare the role of nevertheless with that of but, and show that the differences between these expressions can be explained only if the notion of a constraint on relevance is broadened so that it includes constraints on context as well as constraints on contextual effects.

. P         :             But, nevertheless and still are often classified together as markers of contrastivity. However, the fact that still and nevertheless can be combined with but would seem to suggest that their contribution, while consistent with the meaning of but, is at the same time distinct from it."$ () A : She’s quite intelligent.

B : But nevertheless she’s not really what the department needs at the moment.

The fact that there are cases like () where but can be replaced by nevertheless (or still) suggests that the distinction is a difficult one to draw.

() She’s a linguist, but she’s quite intelligent.

() She’s a linguist. Nevertheless she’s quite intelligent.

At the same time, there are utterances containing but where the use of nevertheless (or still) would be unacceptable or odd, and these give us a clue as to where the difference lies. Compare the (a) and the (b) examples in ()–().

() (a) [The speaker has just found the hearer eating the last slice of pizza.] But I told you to leave some for tomorrow. (l ) (b) [The speaker has just found the hearer eating the last slice of pizza.] ?Nevertheless\Still, I told you to leave some for tomorrow.

[] Although many of the observations which I make about nevertheless also apply to utterance initial still, I shall confine the discussion to nevertheless.

   () (a) A : We’re ravenous. Can we have that pizza in the fridge ?

B : Sure. But there’s not very much left.

(b) A : We’re ravenous. Can we have that pizza in the fridge ?

?B : Sure. Nevertheless\Still there’s not very much left.

() (a) I’ve been sent a copy of the grant proposal. But it’s in Dutch.

(b) I’ve been sent a copy of the grant proposal. ?Nevertheless\Still it’s in Dutch.

As we have seen, the inferential route signalled by but in an example like (a) leads the hearer to a contradiction between a proposition communicated by the segment it introduces, in this case (a), and a proposition made mutually manifest by the interpretation of the preceding utterance, that is (b).

() (a) There is not enough pizza for A and her friends.

(b) There is enough pizza for A and her friends.

And the hearer is expected to recognize that the contradiction should be resolved by abandoning (b). This may itself lead the hearer to entertain other assumptions – for example, that it is relevant to know whether there is any other food in the house, or who was responsible for eating the pizza.

However, it is clear that the intended relevance of the but segment lies in the elimination of the assumption that there is enough pizza for A and her friends, and hence in the suggestion that the inference from the utterance of ‘ Sure ’ to (b) is illegitimate.

Now, in the scenario described B’s assumption that it is relevant to contradict the assumption in (b) is based on her understanding that A would have otherwise taken her utterance of ‘ Sure ’ as evidence of its truth.





In other words, it is assumed that for A, there would have been no question about the factuality of (b), and that the but segment would not be relevant as an answer to a question about the amount of pizza left.

Consider, in contrast, (), where nevertheless is used to introduce an utterance which is relevant as an answer to the question posed by the previous speaker.

() A : There’s going to be quite a crowd tonight. Is there going to be enough food ?

B : Well, there’s lots of salad and bread, and plenty of cheese.

Nevertheless I think I might make another pizza.

The highlighted utterance contextually implies that the answer to this question is, ‘ No, there isn’t enough food ’. However, its relevance as an answer to the question of whether there is enough food is computed in the context of an utterance which contextually implies that the answer is ‘ There is enough food ’. This is not to suggest that the point of the utterance lies in the elimination of this assumption (cf. the but example in (a)). On the contrary, the relevance of the answer given in the nevertheless segment     depends on the assumption that there is a legitimate inference to the contrary answer (from the preceding utterance). In other words, in producing the nevertheless segment, the speaker is suggesting that the answer to the question raised by the utterance in (A) is an issue, or something to be negotiated, and that the evidence for her answer has to be weighed against the evidence for the contrary answer given in the preceding segment. This is not to say that after weighing the evidence the hearer will not eliminate the contrary answer. However, this is not as a result of the information encoded by nevertheless.

It is not always the case that the utterance introduced by nevertheless is relevant because it communicates a proposition that is relevant to an answer raised explicitly in the preceding discourse. For example in (), the utterance prefaced by nevertheless is relevant as an answer to the question of whether strategies for dealing with the unexpected should be part of the curriculum for inexperienced language learners. However, this is not actually posed by the writer, but will be inferred by the reader on the basis of contextual assumptions and the principle of relevance.

() Inexperienced language learners often express fears about jumping into conversations in a foreign language because they fear the unexpected. It is natural that learners in the early stages of learning should feel a need to stay firmly in familiar territory. Nevertheless, the unpredictable nature of much communication is a feature of naturally occurring language, and teachers have a responsibility to gradually expose learners to such language and enable them to develop strategies which will help them cope."% The answer communicated by the nevertheless segment is, ‘ Yes ’. However, the reader is expected to recognize that its relevance will be computed in a context which suggests that the answer is ‘ No ’. Once again, then, the function of nevertheless is to establish that there is an answer to a question made relevant by the opening segment of the passage which is contrary to an answer already given.

More generally, it seems that nevertheless encodes two bits of procedural information. On the one hand, it encodes the information that the utterance is relevant as an answer to a question whose relevance has been established in the preceding discourse, and on the other, it encodes the information that these contextual effects are to be derived in a context which provides evidence for a contrary answer. The uses of nevertheless in examples like (–) are odd because these conditions are not met. In contrast, but is acceptable in these examples because it simply encodes the information that the hearer is expected to identify a contradiction which is resolved by the elimination of an assumption.

[] I am grateful to Stephen Thomas for this example.

   As we have seen, the information encoded by but is information about the intended contextual effects of the utterance it prefaces. The question is whether the information encoded by nevertheless can be construed in the same way.

According to Relevance Theory, a question is an utterance whose propositional form is an interpretation of a proposition which would be desirable (that is, relevant) to someone."& This suggests that to say that an utterance U is relevant as an answer to a question is simply to say that there is a mutually manifest assumption in the context whose propositional form is an interpretation of some proposition communicated by U and which would be relevant (to someone). As we have seen, questions are not always posed explicitly : the fact that a proposition is an interpretation of an answer that someone would find relevant sometimes has to be worked out inferentially on the basis of the context. Moreover, as Sperber & Wilson (, ) show, answers are not always relevant to the speaker who actually asks the question : consider rhetorical or expository questions, for example. The point is, if an utterance, U, is an answer to any kind of question, it is interpreted as such only if there is a mutually manifest assumption in the context whose propositional form is an interpretation of some proposition communicated by U. In other words, it seems that this information must be regarded as information about the type of contextual assumptions the hearer is expected to use in the interpretation process.

According to the analysis just given, the answer communicated by an utterance introduced by nevertheless is contrary to an answer which is already given – or, in other words, contrary to an answer in the immediately accessible context. On the face of it, it would seem that this information is exactly the same as the information encoded by but : the hearer is expected to identify a contradiction. However, as we have seen, this is not a contradiction whose resolution is an intended contextual effect (as it is in the case of but). Rather it is part of the  for establishing the relevance of the utterance, which, as we have seen, lies in the answer it gives to a relevant question. In other words, it seems that this information is information about the  in which the utterance is to be interpreted rather than information about its intended effects.

If this analysis of nevertheless is right, then it should follow that utterances in which but and nevertheless are used together are appropriate only if both the constraint imposed by nevertheless and the constraint encoded by but are satisfied. The dialogue in () (repeated below) might be recognized as the kind of utterance which is produced in the course of a discussion about the [] To say that a proposition is an interpretation of another is to say that it represents that proposition in virtue of the fact that it resembles it in content (logical, semantic, conceptual). For further discussion of the interpretive use of propositions, see Sperber & Wilson ( : –). For a fuller analysis of interrogatives, see Sperber & Wilson ( : –) and Wilson & Sperber ().

    suitability of someone for a position in a department, and hence that the nevertheless utterance can be understood as an answer to a question such as ‘ Should we appoint X ?’ in a context which suggests a contrary answer.

() A : She’s very intelligent.

B : But nevertheless she’s not really what the department needs at the moment.

In contrast, it seems that () is no more acceptable than (b).

() A: We’re ravenous. Can we have that pizza in the fridge ?

?B : Sure. But nevertheless there’s not very much left.

(b) A : We’re ravenous. Can we have that pizza in the fridge ?

?B : Sure. Nevertheless\Still there’s not very much left.

This is not surprising since, as we have seen, it is difficult to see how the proposition that there’s not very much pizza left could be construed as an answer to a question about the amount of pizza in the fridge. For this question will not be understood to have been raised explicitly or implicitly by the preceding discourse.

Examples like (B) raise the question of how the meanings of but and nevertheless interact. We have seen that the nevertheless utterance can be interpreted as an answer to a question such as ‘ Should we appoint X ?’ in a context which suggests a contrary answer. The question is, then, what is the point of the but ?

Wilson & Sperber () have argued that one of the properties which distinguishes expressions that encode procedures from those that encode concepts is that they do not undergo regular semantic compositional rules.

Thus whereas the VP adverbial well can occur in complex structures such as the ones in (), it is difficult to see how the well in () can enter into the kind of relations that result in a syntactically and semantically complex discourse connective."' () (a) He did surprisingly well in the exams.

(b) He did well in the exams, though not as well as his brother.

() A : How did you get on in your exams ?

B: Well, I passed.

This is not to say that procedural discourse connectives like well or but cannot co-occur with other procedural discourse connectives. The point is that the result is not a semantically complex connective whose meaning is somehow built out of the meanings of its components.

[] Wilson & Sperber cite this difference as evidence for their argument that non-truth conditional sentence adverbials like frankly encode concepts (rather than procedures).

Consider their examples :

(i) Frankly speaking, he has negative charisma.

(ii) Speaking frankly, though not as frankly as I’d like to, he isn’t much good.



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