Use-conditional meaning and the semantics of pragmaticalization


  • Christopher Davis
  • Daniel Gutzmann


Pragmaticalization is the diachronic process by which propositional, truth-conditional semantic content develops into expressive, use-conditional content. Against the background of a multidimensional hybrid semantics, which employs both truth- and use-conditions to capture the entire conventional meaning of natural language expressions, this change can be understood as a diachronic type shift from truth-conditional to use-conditional meaning.We suggest that in general such shifts do not happen directly, but via an intermediate stage in which a 2-dimensional expression with mixed content is formed, which in a final stage may develop into pure use-conditional content. These concepts are applied to two cases of pragmaticalization: the antihonorific aspectual marker shimau in Japanese, and the expressive negation marker neenu in Miyara Yaeyaman, a related language of the Southern Ryukyus. As the second case study shows, pragmaticalization may also involve a process which we call pragmatic fission, in which a mixed expression splits into two separate items, leading to a lexical ambiguity between a plain truth-conditional expression and a purely use-conditional item.


How to Cite

Davis, C., & Gutzmann, D. (2019). Use-conditional meaning and the semantics of pragmaticalization. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 19, 197–213. Retrieved from

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