The curious case of the clever quacker: on iconicity, at-issueness, and composition in prohibition signs
Maria Esipova
April 2021

In this paper, I make novel empirical observations about not-at-issue content in pictures, focusing on prohibition signs, and discuss the implications of these observations for our understanding of how meaning works in linguistic and non-linguistic systems. In particular, I show that for certain pieces of pictorial content, the at-issue vs. not-at-issue distinction is highly pragmatic, in a way that strongly resembles the restricting vs. non-restricting distinction in natural language modifiers. I, furthermore, demonstrate that such pieces of pictorial content also behave like modifiers for the purposes of ellipsis/anaphora resolution and alternative generation under 'only'. Thus, I argue that the at-issue vs. not-at-issue distinction in these cases should, in fact, be analyzed in terms of restricting vs. non-restricting modification, rather than presuppositions contributed sublexically. These findings point to substantial parallels between pictures and natural language with respect to both pragmatic reasoning and compositional structuring of meaning.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005096
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Accepted for publication in 'Glossa'
keywords: pictorial semantics, iconicity, at-issueness, composition, non-restricting modifiers, semantics, pragmatics
previous versions: v4 [February 2021]
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