LINGUIST List 31.2756

Wed Sep 09 2020

Calls: Pragmatics/Switzerland

Editor for this issue: Lauren Perkins <>

Date: 09-Sep-2020
From: Sandrine Zufferey <>
Subject: Individual differences in pragmatics
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Full Title: Individual differences in pragmatics

Date: 27-Jun-2021 - 02-Jul-2021
Location: Winterthur, Switzerland
Contact Person: Sandrine Zufferey
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics

Call Deadline: 25-Oct-2020

Meeting Description:

Speakers vary in their ability to use and interpret language in social contexts. However, the existence of individual differences represents “an inconvenient truth” (Kidd, Donnelly & Christiansen, 2018) for experimental approaches to the study of pragmatic competence. While individual variability is undeniable, its systematic investigation is far from being attained. This panel explores the question of individual differences in pragmatics and its theoretical and methodological implications.

Research on individual differences plays a crucial role in identifying the social and cognitive skills underpinning pragmatics. Much research has focused on the role of cognitive skills - e.g., structural language, Theory of Mind, executive functions - but the contribution of social factors, such as education or socioeconomic background, is still underexplored (but see Di Paola et al., 2016; Taguchi, 2012; Zufferey & Gygax, 2020).

Furthermore, research on variation in the mechanisms of pragmatic processing raises foundational issues on the very nature of pragmatics, including the question of whether pragmatics is a unitary system. For instance, to interpret the variation in findings with ASD population, Andrés-Roqueta and Katsos (2017) put forward a distinction between ‘linguistic-pragmatics’ and ‘social-pragmatics’. While the former would rely on structural language and competence with pragmatic norms, the latter would also require Theory of Mind abilities.
Finally, the study of individual differences opens up important methodological challenges. Crucially, it highlights the need to devise tests of pragmatic and related skills that are suitable for correlational research, yielding sufficient variance while tapping specific abilities (for a discussion, see Matthews, Biney & Abbott-Smith, 2018).

The panel is organised by Diana Mazzarella and Sandrine Zufferey. It aims to bring together linguists and psychologists whose work on the socio-cognitive foundations of pragmatic skills can shed new light on the interplay between these theoretical and methodological issues.

Call for Papers:

All submissions addressing the topic of individual differences of pragmatic competence in children, learners and adults are welcome.

Abstracts (250-500 words) must be submitted directly on the IPrA website (, specifying that the submission is intended for the “Individual difference in pragmatics” panel. For more detailed submission instructions, please visit

Page Updated: 09-Sep-2020