Defaults and inferences in interpretation

Journal of Pragmatics 117:280-290 (2017)
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The notions of inference and default are used in pragmatics with different meanings, resulting in theoretical disputes that emphasize the differences between the various pragmatic approaches. This paper is aimed at showing how the terminological and theoretical differences concerning the two aforementioned terms result from taking into account inference and default from different points of view and levels of analysis. Such differences risk making a dialogue between the theories extremely difficult. However, at a functional level of analysis the different theories, definitions, and approaches to interpretation can be compared and integrated. At this level, the standardization of pragmatic inferences can be regarded as the development of a specific type of presumptions, used to draw prima-facie interpretations.

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Fabrizio Macagno
Universidade Nova de Lisboa


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