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Anchoring pragmatics in syntax and semantics

Maria Biezma, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The goal of this dissertation is to investigate some of the ways in which pragmatic meanings are generated on the basis of syntax and semantics. The theoretical motivation guiding this research is to contribute towards the understanding of how pragmatics is anchored in syntax and semantics, paying particular attention to the role of discourse. The focus of this dissertation is the 'discourse-driven' construction of meaning. In this dissertation I investigate various ways in which the interaction between syntax, semantics and discourse work together to give rise to meanings that cannot (straightforwardly) be accounted for in isolation from discourse. In terms of data, the focus is on HPCs, a structure that I have argued is a type of conditional in Spanish. HPCs serve as ideal windows into the interaction between syntax, semantics and discourse. They are non-canonical structures, 'reduced' from the point of view of syntax (lacking inflectional projections). They give rise to a varied and rich range of meanings and allow us to see the importance of paying attention to the interaction between syntax, semantics and discourse to understand how meanings are constructed. I also draw comparisons with other languages, in particular with English optatives, which I claim are very similar to HPCs.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Biezma, Maria, "Anchoring pragmatics in syntax and semantics" (2011). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3461985.