Are There Any Subsentential Speech Acts?


In this paper, I critically examine the major philosophical standpoints regarding (apparent) subsentential speech acts such as “Nice dress”, “Under the table”, or “Where?”. The opponents of this category (e.g. Stanley, Merchant) argue either that apparent subsentential speech acts are ellipses (i.e. sentential) or that they are not full-fledged speech acts. The defenders of subsentential speech acts (e.g. Stainton, Corazza) argue that even though they are not sentences in the syntactic or the semantic sense, they can be used to perform a speech act. I argue in defence of subsentential speech acts and propose to analyze them using Recanati’s moderate relativism.

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