1 Introduction

1.1 The Standard Notions of Literal Meaning and Non-literal Meaning and Their Problems

One of the major issues in investigating the relation of language and meaning is the question of how to characterise and draw the line between what traditionally are called semantics and pragmatics. In describing what they take to be the characteristics of one or the other system, linguists often make use of the terms literal meaning and non-literal meaning. For example, Lyons (1987) lists a number of propositions used in the differentiation of semantics from pragmatics, amongst which is the following: ‘...that semantics deals with literal, and pragmatics with non-literal, meaning...’ (ibid., p. 157). Similarly, Cole (1981, p. xi) states that ...

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