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"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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Discussion Details

Title: Semantic vs. Pragmatic Interpretation
Submitter: José-Luis Guijarro
Description: In re: LINGUIST List Query http://linguistlist.org/issues/18/18-1463.html#2

This is a possible answer to Arash Golzari:

According to Grice, human communication is achieved in a process that he
terms ''reading the mind'' of interlocutors, and THEN, making out the
meaning of what has been said.

Sperber & Wilson insist on this idea and show us that we look for and
thereafter choose RELEVANT contexts in which the sentences we hear or read
may acquire some sense for us.

So, the real way we proceed is (1) We try to make sense of whatever
stimulus we notice, (2) We decode the meaning of the sentence that may be
the gist of this stimulus, (3) We accept it if it seems relevant for us.

In other words:

We start with pragmatic inferencing from premises offered by (1) our chosen
context AND (2) from those offered by the decoded meaning of the sentence
uttered, checking its relevance and if it's ok, then we don't look for
more. If not, we try again.

I hope this makes sense!

Date Posted: 18-May-2007
Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
Cognitive Science
LL Issue: 18.1521
Posted: 18-May-2007

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