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Volume 17, 2002

Semantic Theory and Reported Speech

Emma Borg
Pages 7-25

The Semantic Significance of What is Said

It is often held that a correct semantic theory should assign a semantic content, p, to a given sentence, s, just in case a speaker who utters s says that p – thus ‘what is said’ is taken to be a semantically significant notion. This paper explores what exactly such a claim amounts to and offers five versions of the relationship between a semantic theory and judgements of what is said. The first three of these versions embody the central claim of semantic significance; however, I argue that none of these versions are feasible. Thus, contrary to the initial proposal, I claim that ‘what is said’ is not a semantically significant notion. Assignments of semantic content do not turn on evaluations of what a speaker uttering a sentence says.

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