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“Some say this, some say that”: Pragmatics and discourse markers in Yad Malachi’s interpretation rules


The common formulations of 'some say p and some say q' (and the related variations) reflect the compositional relationships between the four pragmatic premises that I initially presented: 'Some' as a formula, which diminishes the quantitative weight of those holding a position; the commutativity of 'and'; the pragmatic non-commutativity of 'but'; and the possibility of replacing 'but' by 'and'. These premises underlie halakhic decision rules discussed by R. Malachi HaCohen Montefoscoli (1695-1772) of Livorno and previous sources which he brings in his classic book Yad Malachi (Livorno, 1766-1767). This exemplifies a broader phenomenon: certain parts of the halakhic rules literature include rules that embody pragmatic assumptions. Because the rules of interpretation consist of a higher linguistic awareness than that of everyday discourse, pragmatic analysis of these rules may enrich pragmatics as a whole, with insights they raise from ancient sources, even if not formulated as part of a full-fledged pragmatic study.

Cite as: Brown, JLL 3 (2014), 1–19, DOI: 10.14762/jll.2014.001

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