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Auteur: Laurence HORN

Co-Auteur(s): Istvan KECSKES, U. at Albany

Pragmatics, discourse and cognition

Abstract/Résumé: I. Ifs, ands, and buts about pragmatics Linguists’ discovery of pragmatics dates to 1971 with the publication of (i) two Linguistic Inquiry squibs: Bar-Hillel’s warning on the abuse of the “pragmatic wastebasket” and Geis & Zwicky’s invocation of “invited inference” to capture the tendency to strengthen “if p then q” conditionals to “iff p, q” biconditionals, (ii) Cohen’s empirical challenge to Grice’s “conversationalist hypothesis” on conjunction buttressing (the strengthening of “p and q” to “p and then q”) based on the contrast between “If we get married and have a baby Grandma will be happy” and “If we have a baby and get married Grandma will be happy”, and especially (iii) the publication of _Studies in Linguistic Semantics_. Belying its title, the papers in this collection marked linguists’ recognition of the importance of context in natural language meaning, establishing the first beachheads in the semantics/pragmatics border wars. In addition to the introduction of pragmatic presuppositions as constraints on the context of utterance in papers by E. L. Keenan, R. Garner, C. Fillmore, G. Lakoff, and others, Robin Lakoff sought in her “Ifs, ands, and buts about conjunction” to examine a set of use conditions on conjunctive utterances. Four decades later, our communication will re-examine aspects of the meaning of “if-then”, “and”, and “but” as case studies in pragmatics, discourse, and cognition. II. Recipient design and salience in shaping speaker utterance On the socio-cognitive approach to pragmatics (Kecskes 2010, 2012) S[peaker] meaning is a full proposition which is not underdetermined from S’s perspective. Speakers authorize what they UTTERER-implicate but don't fully control what they CONVERSATIONALLY implicate (cf. Saul 2002). What matters is what S requires the audience to believe, not what it does believe. S-intention does not depend on what anyone else presumes. “To mean or imply something is to have certain intentions” (Davis 1998). S-utterance is not just recipient design. In fitting words into situational contexts S is driven not only by the intent that the hearer recognize what is meant as what S intends, but also by individual salience that subconsciously affects production. The interplay of these social and individual factors shapes the communicative process. The effect of individual salience may result in semantic units that make their own context and occasionally cause misunderstandings. The individual and conversational aspects allow S-meaning to be manipulated according to S's needs: leave meaning conversationally open for interpretation or signal S's intention with cues and markers. It will be shown that linguistic expressions can usually be underdetermined from S’s perspective if S deliberately leaves them underdetermined.