Force shift as speech act anchoring
Jess Law, Haoze Li, Diti Bhadra
April 2022

This paper investigates force shift, a phenomenon in which the canonical discourse conventions, or force, associated with a clause type can be overridden to yield polar questions with the help of additional force-indicating devices. Previous studies attribute force shift to the presence of a complex question force component operating on semantic content. Based on utterance particles and particle clusters in Cantonese, we analyze force shift as resulting from compositional operations on force-bearing expressions. We propose that a simplex force, such as assertion or question, denotes unanchored speech acts, while a force-shifting particle like Cantonese ho2 is an anchoring function anchoring a speech act A to the speaker while querying whether or not the addressee can perform the speech act A. The proposed semantics makes predictions about ho2’s interactions with addressee-changing operations and imperatives, as well as about a larger family of force shift phenomena.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006554
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Submitted
keywords: illocutionary force, discourse dynamics, force shift, speech acts, pragmatics, dynamic semantics, semantics
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