Challenging meaning types: a study on direct and indirect refutation
Ruiz Olazabal, Ainhoa
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Refutations, the expressions of disagreement in dialogue, are part of our everyday conversations. Arguments and discussions are present in our daily lives since every possible subject that anyone could speak about embraces an uncountable array of different opinions. Taking this into consideration, the aim of the present paper is to analyse natural occurring data in order to examine the different mechanisms used when engaging in disagreement, and how refutations target different meaning types; namely, assertions and presuppositions. The initial hypothesis and the one that would be proved in this paper by interpreting naturalistic data, is that, in accordance with the theoretic literature, direct refutations such as No, that’s not true target assertions, whereas indirect ones like Hey, wait a minute, target presuppositions. For this purpose, data gathered from 22 episodes of an American TV talk-show was probed and classified according to the linguistic meaning of the utterance they refute: assertion or presupposition; and the refutation type: direct or indirect. Furthermore, it was also considered whether the refutation affected the immediately preceding utterance or not. As a secondary point, the pragmatic theory of verbal courtesy was also borne in mind to see whether it could help understand the distribution of the refutations dealt with along the texts. In the light of the insights gained from the analysis in the aforementioned field, some generalizations and conclusions were drawn by connecting refutation types to meaning types and the influence of the pragmatic theory of verbal courtesy. The results do not show a significantly tight relation between the refutation type and the linguistic meaning, as both assertions and presuppositions were negated by means of direct and indirect refutations, and Hey, wait a minute did not exclusively target presuppositions.