Intuitions and the semantics of indirect discourse

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Suppose Jill utters the sentence (i)Everybody is wearing a hat, thereby meaning only that everybody she sees is wearing a hat. Did she thus say that everybody she sees is wearing a hat? That is, would the indirect discourse report (ii)Jill said that everybody she sees is wearing a hat be true? Given that Jill obviously meant to be talking only about everybody she sees, and not everybody in the whole universe, conventional wisdom has it that those who would take (ii) as true clearly have intuition on their side; whereas the view that (ii) would be false, and that (iii)Jill said that everybody in the whole universe is wearing a hat would be true, is no less conventionally viewed as highly counterintuitive. I will argue that the conventional wisdom is wrong—upon closer and more careful examination, our intuitions actually favor (iii) over (ii). To show this I will question not only the intuitive plausibility of particular indirect discourse reports, but also the intuitive plausibility of certain consequences of taking reports such as (ii) as true.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy and Psychology
EditorsA. Capone, M. Garcia-Carpintero, A. Falzone
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy and Psychology
ISSN (Print)2214-3807
ISSN (Electronic)2214-3815

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019.


  • Contextualism
  • Ellipsis
  • Indirect discourse
  • Intuitions
  • Minimalism
  • What is said

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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