31 August 2006

When someone says they feel like dancing, then they feel like dancing. The deductions stop there. On the basis of the linguistic data, you are not entitled infer that they want to be away from you, or that they dislike you, or that they are upset. They only want to dance. Perhaps they want to do it wildly; perhaps they want to do it solo. But you cannot even infer that from the utterance. What you can infer is this.

(1) That they want to do something.
(2) That someone wants to do something.
(3) That someone wants to dance.

My suggestion to you is to play it safe. To be sure, certain non-literal implications can regularly be drawn. But why suppose that anything substantive can always be non-literaly implied by an utterance? If I say it is raining, surely I am saying nothing more than it is raining. (Or am I really just telling you to bring an umbrella?)