Seminar on Language and Communication

Andrea Raimondi (University of Nottingham):
"Display-prompting devices and non-truth-conditional meaning"

24 November 2022

Room 3, Carlos Santamaria Zentroa

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Yolanda García Lorenzo, Doctor in Linguistics

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Room 3, Carlos Santamaria Zentroa



"Display-prompting devices and non-truth-conditional meaning"

Seminar on Language and Communication

A venerable distinction in the philosophy of language is that between use and mention. Philosophers agree that this distinction isn’t exclusive: ‘a dream’ is simultaneously used and mentioned in:
- Martin Luther King said that he had ‘a dream’.
Perhaps it isn’t even exhaustive. For example, it is sometimes argued that ‘brother’ is neither used nor mentioned in this meaning attribution:
- In Italian, ‘fratello’ means brother.
A natural reply is that the sentence is shorthand for
- In Italian, ‘fratello’ means the same as ‘brother’,
where ‘brother’ is mentioned. I think this reply is wrong. After briefly explaining why, in this talk I defend an original theory of meaning attributions, which consists of three claims:
The expression in the complement position of ‘means’ is displayed to exhibit its customary meaning (just like sometimes a patch is displayed to exhibit its colour).
The exhibited meaning is picked out by a covert dedicated context-sensitive expression.
In addition to providing a truth-conditional contribution, ‘means’ is responsible for triggering the display-affair on its right – it acts as display-prompting device. This peculiar role of ‘means’ can be accommodated in terms of a constraint that ‘means’ imposes on the use of the attribution (a constraint that I spell out in terms of a suitable contextual restriction).
Afterwards, I discuss further applications of the mode of analysis defended for meaning attributions, focusing on some uses of the verbs ‘pronounce’ and ‘be like’. Finally, I try to show how my approach, combined with other views, may shed some light on the phenomenon of mention.

Andrea Raimondi

(University Nottingham)


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The research group on Language, Action, and Thought ---at the Institute of Logic, Cognition, Language and Information (ILCLI)--- mostly focuses on the Philosophy of Language and Mind as well as on the Philosophy of Action. Most of its members are philosophers (some, in particular, the external collaborator John Perry, with a renowned international career) but it also includes linguists (Yolanda García Lorenzo and Larraitz Zubeldia) and psychologists (Aida Fernández Cotarelo), as a clear sign of its interdisciplinary nature.

An important part of our research has evolved around Critical Pragmatics, a theory created and developed by some of us, with applications to the study of linguistic communication, and important assumptions and implications about thought and action.

During the last decade, we have received several grants from the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU), the Basque Government and the Government of Spain. Currently, we are finishing a work on the explicit and implicit elements of moral, aesthetic and political discourses. We are a consolidated group of the Basque University System of category A (90,5 points, IT1032-16).


Address: ILCLI. UPV/EHU. Carlos Santamaria Zentroa.

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