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Publications [#285982] of Ronald R. Butters

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Essays/Articles/Chapters in Books

  1. Butters, RR. "How not to strike it rich: Semantics, pragmatics, and semiotics of a Massachusetts lottery game card." Applied Linguistics 25.4Oxford University Press (OUP), (December, 2004): 466-490. [Gateway.cgi], [doi]
    (last updated on 2020/01/23)

    In 2001, the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission released for sale a new 'instant lottery ticket' 'scratch-and-play' game card named 'Caesars [sic] PalaceĀ®' (played by scratching the surface of each card at designated spots to reveal hidden numbers or images). It offered ten grand prizes of $1,000,000 each and a number of lesser prizes. Very soon, a number of purchasers began to claim million-dollar prizes; most of these demands-for-payment were denied by the Commission on the grounds that the claims were based upon a misreading of the game-card instructions. The rejected claimants appealed, but their appeals were denied by a special hearing board appointed by the Commission. Further appeals to state courts in Massachusetts may still be pending. This paper analyses the semantic, pragmatic, and semiotic bases for the claimants' and Commission's conflicting interpretations of the instructions-a somewhat new application of linguistics to the field of language and law. The essay also raises theoretical questions concerning the relationship between linguistics and semiotic theory in the context of real-world data.

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