Relevance Topics

  • Sophie Repp


I present a speech act approach to relevance topics (RTs) that buildson Krifka’s (2001) analysis of speech acts as operations on commitment states. RTs can be marked with separating phrases (as for) or as antecedents of relevance conditionals. They are speech acts of their own and are used in contexts in which the speaker wishes to address something that was not addressed immediately before. A RT must be followed by a speech act that is relevant in relation to the topical element (which subsumes relations of predication and frame setting). Without the RT the discourse would be incoherent because the prerequisites of the subsequent speech act (e.g. Gricean maxims of relevance) would be violated. RTs cannot introduce completely new discourse referents. They must be referential, which in the case of properties as RTs can be achieved by a type shifting operation, but they can also pick up portions of earlier discourse by quoting. I compare RTs to hanging topics, which are a different type of speech act, as well as to frame setters, which can be expressed by very similar formal means to RTs.
How to Cite
Repp, S. (1). Relevance Topics. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 15, 483-498. Retrieved from