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New from Oxford University Press!


Words in Time and Place: Exploring Language Through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary

By David Crystal

Offers a unique view of the English language and its development, and includes witty commentary and anecdotes along the way.

New from Cambridge University Press!


Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases

By Peter Mark Roget

This book "supplies a vocabulary of English words and idiomatic phrases 'arranged … according to the ideas which they express'. The thesaurus, continually expanded and updated, has always remained in print, but this reissued first edition shows the impressive breadth of Roget's own knowledge and interests."

New from Brill!


The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek

By Franco Montanari

Coming soon: The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek by Franco Montanari is the most comprehensive dictionary for Ancient Greek to English for the 21st Century. Order your copy now!

New from Elsevier!


Ampersand: An International Journal of General and Applied Linguistics

Edited By R. Cann, H. Pichler, K. Van De Poel, D. van Olmen, and K. Watson

Book Information


Title: Interpretation and Understanding
Written By: Marcelo Dascal

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.
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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