The Semantics and Pragmatics of Honorification: Register and Social Meaning

ISBN : 9780198821366

Elin McCready
176 Pages
171 x 246 mm
Pub date
Aug 2019
Oxford Studies in Semantics and Pragmatics
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This book explores the semantics and pragmatics of honorifics, expressions that indicate the degree of formality that a speaker feels is required in interacting with another person. Although these expressions are found in many languages worldwide, this volume is the first to approach the area from the perspective of formal semantics and pragmatics. Elin McCready treats honorifics - and expressions with honorific import - as carriers of expressive content that contributes either directly or indirectly to a register corresponding to the current formality of the speech situation. The analysis is applied to a variety of empirical examples, including utterance and argument honorifics in Japanese, Thai, and several other languages. It is proposed that the distinct strategies that different languages use for honorification have implications for the grammaticality of certain combination of honorifics. The volume also explores the connections between honorification and a range of theoretical issues in social meaning and the expression of gender. It will hence appeal not only to researchers in formal semantics and pragmatics, but also to sociolinguists, anthropological linguists, and philosophers.


1 Introduction
2 Honorification as expressive
3 A theory of register for honorification
4 Utterance honorifics
5 Argument honorifics
6 Role honorifics
7 Pronouns and honorification
8 Honorification as social meaning

About the author: 

Elin McCready is Professor of Linguistics at Aoyama Gakuin University, where she also heads the Singularity Research Institute. Her main area of research is formal semantics and pragmatics, with secondary interests in epistemology, game theory, and feminist philosophy. Her work has been published in journals including Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, Linguistics and Philosophy, and Journal of Pragmatics. She is the author of Reliability in Pragmatics (OUP, 2015) and co-editor of Formal Approaches to Semantics and Pragmatics: Japanese and Beyond (with Katsuhiko Yabushita and Kei Yoshimoto; Springer, 2014) and Epistemology for the Rest of the World (with Stephen Stich and Masaharu Mizumoto; OUP, 2018).

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