Topic: HUMAN SEMANTICS
Indexicality and context-shift
By Fran?ois Recanati
So far I have distinguished between four types of cases. For `intentional' indexicals we can shift the context at will. What can be shifted in this way includes -- inter alia -- the addressee feature of the context, the language feature of the context (including the standards of precision), or the reference of demonstratives. For other indexicals we can shift the context through pretense. Following a number of authors, I have distinguished two types of contextshifting pretense. The first type of context-shifting pretense is illustrated by direct speech reports, recorded utterances (on one analysis), the historical present (again, on one analysis), and the presentifying uses of `here' which are the spatial counterpart of the historical present. The second type of context-shifting pretense is illustrated by various sorts of displayed assertion (non-quotational echoes, irony, free indirect speech) and, again, by direct speech reports insofar as they involve the two types of shift simultaneously. The fourth type of case is that of expressions which are not really indexical, but perspectival, and for which we do not need to appeal to the notion of context-shift in order to account for their shifty behaviour. In this category I have placed the adverb `now', and the verb `come' in one of its uses; I have also mentioned a possible treatment of the English tenses as perspectival rather than indexical. The question arises whether all this complexity is needed. Maybe this is too much and some category can be dismissed as superfluous. But another possibility is that this is still not enough. Indeed there is a notion of context-shift that has been prominent in the recent literature on indexicality and which I have not dealt with yet. To make room for it it seems that we need a fifth category.
Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 3 December 2004 04:14 GMT