Negative bias, reminding, and pragmatic reasoning in Kipsigis belief reports
Madeline Bossi
January 2023

Much work has explored how belief reports (x Vatt p) function pragmatically not just as reports of x’s internal state, but as devices for indicating the status of p with respect to the Common Ground (CG). In addition to the well-studied case of factive verbs, which presuppose p, recent work has explored negatively biased belief verbs, which suggest that p cannot or should not be added to the CG (e.g. Kierstead 2013, Hsiao 2017, Anvari et al. 2019, Glass 2020). Drawing from original fieldwork, I show that the negatively biased belief verb par 'think' in Kipsigis (Kalenjin; Kenya) is best modeled as contributing, in addition to its basic belief semantics, an instruction for CG management (Krifka 2008): p is not to be added to the CG. Together with context-sensitive pragmatic reasoning, this instruction explains the curious case of a verb that can be used both to suggest that p is false and to remind the addressee that p is true.
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Reference: lingbuzz/006610
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keywords: common ground management, negative bias, reminding, belief reports, kipsigis, semantics
previous versions: v1 [May 2022]
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