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An Analysis of Presupposition Triggers in Political Speeches

By Lorraine Wagner,2014-06-16 13:28
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An Analysis of Presupposition Triggers in Political Speeches

An Analysis of Presupposition Triggers in Political Speeches

    CONTENTS

    ABSTRACT ..............................................................................................................1

    摘要 ...........................................................................................................................1

    Chapter One INTRODUCTION .............................................................................2

    Chapter Two LITERATURE REVIEW .................................................................3

    2.1 Studies on Presupposition .....................................................................................3 2.1.1 Philosophical origin .......................................................................................3 2.1.2 Semantic & Pragmatic presupposition ............................................................3 2.2 Studies on Presupposition Triggers .......................................................................4 2.2.1 Definition & Classifications ...........................................................................4 2.2.2 Analysis .........................................................................................................4 Chapter Three PRESUPPOSITION TRIGGERS IN POLITICAL SPEECHES5

    3.1 Analysis of Lexical presupposition triggers ..........................................................5 3.1.1 Definite descriptions ......................................................................................5 3.1.2 Verb classes ...................................................................................................5 3.1.3 Words of repeated meaning ............................................................................6 3.2 Analysis of Syntactic presupposition triggers ........................................................6 3.2.1 Temporal clauses ...........................................................................................6 3.2.2 Cleft sentences ...............................................................................................6 3.2.3 Questions .......................................................................................................6 Chapter Four CONCLUSION .................................................................................7

    Works Cited ..............................................................................................................8

2.1 Studies on Presupposition

    Presupposition is not only a very important issue in the logic of natural language, but also an important topic in the philosophical study of language. It was put forward by Gottlob Frege, a German mathematician and logician. In the philosophy of language, the study of presupposition has largely been confined to debates about the nature of reference and referring expressions. In linguistics, on the other hand, the investigation of presupposition is concerned with a much wider range of phenomena, centering around the general debates about the interaction and division of labor between semantics and pragmatics. For example, “The queen of England is old.” and ”England has a queen.” When we analyze the presupposition of these two sentences from semantic presupposition and pragmatic presupposition, we can get that ”England has a queen” is the semantic presupposition, regardless of the value of

    existence and the proposition’s true and false. However, from the aspect of pragmatic

    presupposition, presupposition refers to premise relations of relief, attitude and intention about context and speak object. For example, the sentence of “Please open

    the door”, which presupposes “the door is open”, “the speaker the door can be closed” , “the listener has the ability to close the door” and “the speaker has the right

    to order the listener to close the door”. Loose of anyone of terms will make it difficult to set up a sentence.

    2.2 Studies on Presupposition Triggers

    In the analysis of presupposition, presupposition trigger is a very important term, the special word to produce presupposition. For example, “Tom is late again”, the presupposition of this sentence is “Tom was once late” and the “again” is the factor of the presupposition trigger. Common presupposition trigger can be classified into all kinds of verbs, Qualifiers, adjectives and sentences, etc. According to the

    presupposition trigger in semantic level, we can identify presupposition easily. In the other hand, cultural differences may also lead to various presupposition triggers languages which are called pragmatic presupposition triggers.

    3.1 Lexical presupposition triggers

1. Definite descriptions

    They presuppose the existence of the things referred to, such as a, this, that, all and

    other proper nouns.

    E.g. It’s a great honor to welcome you to the first meeting of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the United States and China. (Obama’s speech on

    US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue)

    2. Verb classes

    (1) Factive verbs

    They presuppose what the object clause expresses is true, such as know, regret,

    realize, etc.

    E.g. We must realize that human nature is about the most constant thing in the universe and that the essentials of human relationship do not change. (C.Coolidge,

    1925) ---It presupposes that human nature is about the most constant thing. (2) Implicative verbs

    The premise of these verbs is determined by the meaning of these verbs, because the meaning of these verbs originally contained two semantic components, for example, manage, forget, avoid.

    E.g. We want no wars of conquest; we must avoid the temptation of territorial aggression. (W.Mckinley, 1897)---It presupposes that they are expected not to be attracted by the temptation of territorial aggression.

    (3) Change of state verbs

    It refers to a verb indicates a change of state, and then the existence of the state of the former is bound to be the premise of this change, such as start, stop, continue,

    finish, leave, etc.

    E.g. Clearly America must continue to lead the world we did so much to make. (B.Cliton, 1993)---It presupposes that American has been the lead of the world at the time of the utterance.

    (4) Verbs of judging

    It refers to verbs that can be said which have been concluded or known, such as accuse, charge, criticize, etc.

    E.g. We deeply appreciate the Greek government's efforts to overcome the international financial crisis and its debt crisis and support the measures taken by the EU and IMF. (Speech on Greek Parliament)---It presupposes that Greek government's

    has done a lot to overcome the international financial crisis and its debt crisis. 3. Words of repeated meaning

    They presuppose an action, event and state ever existed, such as repeat, restore,

    return and other repeated qualifiers such as second, either, only, again, etc.

    E.g. For the trust reposed in me, I will return the courage and the devotion that be fit the time. I can do no less. (F.D.Roosevelt, 1933)---It presupposes that he has the

    courage and devotion before.

    Summary:

    Lexical presupposition triggers are used in political speeches to make language conciseness, highlight focused information and emphasize the function of presupposition.

    3.2 Syntactic presupposition triggers

    1. Temporal clauses

    They presuppose what these clauses express are true, and these clauses are led by when, after, as, before, during, while, since.

    E.g. When there was despair in the dustbowl and depression across the land. (Obama’s victory speech)---It presupposes that there is a depression.

     2. Cleft sentences

    The English cleft structure is typical of stressed format, and can trigger a presupposition.

    E.g. It is John who called Marry yesterday---It is presupposed by someone called Marry yesterday.

    3. Questions

    (1) Guide words in non-restrictive relative clauses can often be used as triggers. E.g. But our greatest strength is the power of four ideas, which are still new in many

    lands---It presupposes that the power of our ideas is still new in many lands.

     (2) It as a form of subject, the real subject of the sentence will be presupposed later. E.g. It is foolish of some people to be constantly thinking of betraying the country---It presupposes that some people are constantly thinking of betraying the country. Summary:

    Syntactic presupposition triggers help to meet the requirements of diverse and coherent speech language. The implicit emphasis sentence can presuppose important information. Presupposition can make the speech to maximize the transfer of information within a limited time and with render force and inflammatory.

     Works Cited

    George Yule. Pragmatics[M]. 上海;上海外国教育出版社;2000

    He, Ziran[何自然]. 认知语用学言语交际的认知研究[M]. 上海;上海外国教

    育出版社;2006

    Liu, Yuntong[刘运同]. 会话分析概要[M]. 上海;学林出版社;2007

    Stalnaker, R. Pragmatic Presupposition[M]. New York: New York University

    Press, 1974

     Tian Miao[田苗]. 对新闻采访中语用预设的分析[J]. 哈尔滨;哈尔滨工程大学;

    2009. (4):152-154

    Xiong, Xueliang [熊学亮]. 认知语用学概论[M]. 上海;上海外国教育出版社;

    1999

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