markedness slips are showing

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Sat Sep 15 15:19:59 UTC 2001

In a message dated 9/15/2001 10:18:34 AM, preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU writes:

<< One would grant Ron that accent has several non-pronuciation senses,
and one would certainly grant that a careful investigation of
discourses will turn up multiplicities of meaning not seen out of
context. But I would also argue that these meanings here are all
rather "marked," at least in the limited context given (althoujgh I
also agree with Ron that a "markedness slip" - we'll now hear no
doubt that Ron and I are the first to use that heady phrase - could
have occurred).

My main point here, however, is to note that from hours and hours
(and hours) of our folk linguistic recordings (with full contexts,
many reported on concerning just this topic in Niedzielski and
Preston 1999, Folk LInguistics, Mouton de Gruyter) we do indeed find
that "pronunciation" is the primary sense of "accent" for
nonlinguists (although expansion of this to include other aspects of
language - lexicon, grammar) is also common.

dInIs >>

Sure! The difference between a default reading and a nondefault reading is
that the default reading is the one that most often occurs. Duh!

The point is that in conversation--when the speaker feels certain that the
hearer is going to interpret what the speaker says as one of the nondefault
readings--then a nondefault reading may well be (or even has to be) the one
intended. For example:

Speaker A: I really like it that she is accenting the course towards
contemporary history.
Speaker B: Well, I'm dropping the course because *I* just don't like her

Or what if Speaker A and Speaker B both have heard the instructor speak and
both know that the instructor has no noticeable pronunciational differences
between her speech and the speech of Speakers A and B?

How can Larry ("I still don't get the 'content' reading") Horn--who teaches
courses in pragmatics--eliminate potential contexts from consideration in
determining the possible range of meanings of the utterance in question?
These aren't far-fetched examples, they are typical of what people do in real

Maybe a different example will help. Take the noun IRON. As a count noun,
IRON would seem to have the default meaning 'appliance used to press
clothing'. In isolation, then, in a sentence such as

She hit her sister on the head with the iron

IRON would have the default reading 'appliance used to press clothing'.

But IRON also can refer to a golf club, though this usage is normally
combined with a number, as in FOUR IRON.

However, it is fairly easy to construct contexts in which

She hit her sister on the head with the iron.

Would unambiguously refer to a golf club--for example, if the incident in
question took place on a golf course.

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