Loose Talk, Scale Presuppositions and QUD
I present a new pragmatic theory of loose talk, focussing on the loose use of numbers and measurement expressions. The account explains loose readings as arising from a pragmatic mechanism aimed at restoring relevance to the question under discussion (QUD), appealing to Krifka’s notion of a measurement scale (Krifka 2002). The core motivating observation is that the loose reading of a claim need not be weaker than its literal content, as almost all pragmatic treatments of loose talk have assumed (e.g. Lasersohn 1999). The loosening mechanism described here can be applied to a range of other linguistic phenomena as well.