Posted: Mar 21, 2014 4:11 pm
by nunnington
Another point about 'and' - bloody hell, this is addictive - is that some people consider it to be pretty much semantically empty. Thus, instead of saying 'I like beer, ice-cream, and ox-tail soup', it's OK in many dialects to say 'I like beer, ice-cream, ox-tail soup', so the 'and' didn't add very much.

You can see this also in between clauses, as we work out the meaning of the 'and' from the meaning of the clauses. Hence, it would be bizarre to interpret 'he slipped on a banana skin and broke his leg', as meaning 'and then he broke his leg', because of our real world knowledge that when people slip, they can break their leg. But this is really pragmatic knowledge, so maybe 'and' is a kind of pragmatic operator, discourse marker, or whatever term you want to use. Another obvious example is 'we had sex and she got pregnant'; compare, 'we had sex and she had her dinner'. The first indicates consequence; the second, time.

The basic function of these markers is to enhance 'discourse coherence', and there are lots of them. So some linguists consider them not to be semantic markers really, but as working to smooth the flow of conversation, or the flow of texts. As you can see, it's stunningly exciting!