Metalinguistic denial and its felicity conditions



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Tartu Ülikool


In the literature on denial, not much attention has been paid to metalinguistic denial, a speech act used to object to metalinguistic information in a conversation. The purposes of this paper are to describe the effects of a metalinguistic denial in a Stalnakerian framework of conversations and to determine the felicity conditions of metalinguistic denial. To fulfil the first purpose, I propose to represent in the framework used metalinguistic information as “metalinguistic propositions”. Each metalinguistic proposition encodes a criterion used to determine the meaning of an expression in a conversation. These are the entities a metalinguistic denial objects to. After introducing metalinguistic propositions, I model the effects of metalinguistic denial on a conversation. To fulfil the second purpose, we need to represent why, in some cases, a metalinguistic denial needs to be followed by an explanation to be felicitous. In order to do so, I argue we have to introduce propositions that speakers acknowledge as possible points of disagreement in the conversation. I call these propositions “contestable metalinguistic propositions”. I argue that if speakers cannot figure out which contestable metalinguistic propositions are being denied by a metalinguistic denial, an explanation has to follow the denial.



philosophy, philosophy of language