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Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

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New from Oxford University Press!


What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.

New from Cambridge University Press!


Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.

Book Information


Title: Interpretation and Understanding
Written By: Marcelo Dascal
URL: http://www.benjamins.nl/cgi-bin/t_bookview.cgi?bookid=Z_120

Our species has been hunting for meaning ever since we departed from our cousins in the evolutionary tree. We developed sophisticated forms of communication. Yet, as much as they can convey meaning and foster understanding, they can also hide meaning and prevent comprehension. Indeed, we can never be sure that a "yes" conveys assent or that a smile reveals pleasure. In order to ascertain what communicative behavior "means", we have to go through an elaborate cognitive process of interpretation.
This book deals with how we achieve the daily miracle of understanding each other. Based on the author ’s contributions to pragmatics, the book articulates his perspective using the insights of linguistics, the philosophy of language and rhetoric, and confronting alternatives to it. Theory formation is shaped by application to fields of human activity – such as legal practice, artificial intelligence, psychoanalysis, the media, literature, aesthetics, ethics and politics – where interpretation and understanding are paramount.
Using an accessible language, this is a book addressed to specialists as well as to anyone interested in interpreting understanding and understanding the potentialities and limits of interpretation.

Table of contents

Foreword Ix
Part I: Theorizing
1. Pragmatics and communicative intentions 3
2. Conversational relevance 31
3. Strategies of understanding 52
4. Two modes of understanding 82
5. Individual and collective intentions 101
6. How does a connective work? 115
7. Commitment and involvement 149
8. Cues, clues, and context 169
9. Models of interpretation 194
Part II: Applying
10. Understanding digressions 213
11. Understanding a metaphor 244
12. Three remarks on pragmatics and literature 273
13. Understanding controversies 280
14. Understanding misunderstanding 293
15. Understanding the law 322
16. Understanding jokes and dreams 362
17. Understanding art 380
18. Why does language matter to Artificial Intelligence? 402
19. Pragmatics in the digital age 437
20. Interpretation and tolerance 457
21. Understanding other cultures 477
Part III: Meeting the alternatives
22. Why should I ask her? 497
23. Speech act theory and pragmatics 507
24. The pragmatic structure of conversation 521
25. Contextualism 542
26. Does pragmatics need semantics? 562
27. Pragmatics and foundationalism 594
28. The marriage of pragmatics and rhetoric 600
29. Hermeneutic interpretation and pragmatic interpretation 623
30. The limits of interpretation 641
Sources and acknowledgments 660
References 666
Subject Index 695
Name Index 709

Publication Year: 2003
Publisher: John Benjamins
Review: Read the review
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
Cognitive Science
Issue: All announcements sent out by The LINGUIST List are emailed to our subscribers and archived with the Library of Congress.
Click here to see the original emailed issue.

Format: Hardback
ISBN: 1588114147
ISBN-13: 9781588114143
Pages: xxii, 714 pp.
Prices: U.S. $ 216
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9027226040
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: xxii, 714 pp.
Prices: EUR 125.00