'What-is-said' was introduced as a technical term by Paul Grice in his William James lectures of 1967 as a way of drawing the line between what we know upon hearing an utterance based on our knowledge of the language, and 'what is implicated', i.e. what we can infer from the fact that an utterance has been made in context. Sometimes identified with the truth-conditional or propositional content of an utterance, 'what-is-said' is nowadays hotly contested between literalist and contextualist approaches to meaning and has been variously reformulated or even downright rejected. This article summarizes the relevant debates in post-Gricean pragmatics and presents some empirical evidence in favor of a literalist conception of 'what-is-said' as the content of the speaker's locutionary act, which is prior to pragmatic enrichment and not cancellable.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Linguistics and Language