19: Sentences with baggage - Presuppositions

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Apr 19 2018 36 mins   1.1k
What’s so weird if I say, “the present King of France is bald” or “I need to pick up my pet unicorn from the vet”? It seems like those sentences should be false: at least, they certainly can’t be true. But if you reply, “No, he isn’t” or “No, you don’t” it still feels unsatisfying: aren’t we still both assuming that France has a king and that I have a pet unicorn? In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch explore different kinds of meanings: sometimes sentences wear their meaning on their sleeves, but sometimes they instead smuggle it in as baggage. These assumptions are known as presuppositions. Presuppositions are incredibly useful (we couldn’t manage conversations at a normal pace without them), but in the wrong hands (such as when you’re trying to influence an eyewitness) they can also be very dangerous. This month’s bonus episode on Patreon is about memes, poetry, and mock-old English: Roses are red / Violets are dreams / In this episode / We talk poems and memes. To listen to bonus episodes and support the show, visit patreon.com/lingthusiasm We also announced a new round of Lingthusiasm merch: you can now get scarves with a subtle tree diagram print suitable for all your language family tree/syntax tree and other structural needs, and t-shirts, mugs, totes, and pouches with Heck Yeah Descriptivism or Heck Yeah Language Change on them, as well as the existing IPA scarves and NOT JUDGING YOUR GRAMMAR, JUST ANALYSING IT items in more colours! Go to lingthusiasm.com/merch to see pictures and order. To see this episode's shownotes, go to https://lingthusiasm.com/post/173106183816/lingthusiasm-episode-19-sentences-with-baggage