The continuum problem: Modified Occam's Razor and conventionalisation of meaning

International Review of Pragmatics 6:29-58 (2014)
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According to Grice's “Modified Occam's Razor”, in case of uncertainty between the implicature account and the polysemy account of word uses it is parsimonious to opt for the former. However, it is widely agreed that uses can be partially conventionalised by repetition. This fact, I argue, raises a serious problem for MOR as a methodological principle, but also for the substantial notion of implicature in lexical pragmatics. In order to overcome these problems, I propose to reinterpret implicatures in terms of implicature-like effects delivered by non-inferential processes.

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Marco Mazzone
University of Catania


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