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- PublicationAccès librePoliteness, relevance and scalar inferences(2015-4-1)Recent behavioural studies in experimental pragmatics investigate the effect of contextual manipulations on the derivation of scalar inferences (e.g. Not all X-ed inferred from an utterance of ‘Some X-ed’). Among these, Bonnefon et al. (2009) and Feeney and Bonnefon (2012) suggest that scalar inferences are less likely to be derived in face-threatening contexts. Indeed, they even suggest that a face-threatening utterance of the form ‘Some X-ed’ can be interpreted as communicating that All X-ed. This paper argues that the experimental evidence provided so far is compatible with two alternative explanations of the empirical data: (i) face-threatening contexts block the derivation of scalar inferences, or (ii) in face-threatening contexts the scalar inference is in fact derived as part of the intended interpretation but is less likely to be accepted (as true). Drawing on the theoretical distinction between ‘comprehension’ and ‘acceptance’ of the communicated content (Sperber et al., 2010), the paper proposes an analysis of the results in light of Relevance Theory. In line with (ii), Relevance Theory predicts that in face-threatening contexts the scalar inference Not all X-ed may be derived as part of the interpretation of the utterance but consideration of the communicator's ‘preferences’ (e.g. her concern to be polite/kind) may lead the hearer to judge the scalar inference to be probably false and so to reject it. In such a case, the hearer may go on to infer that the reality is that All X-ed but not attribute this to the speaker as part of the intended meaning of the utterance.
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- PublicationAccès librePragmatics and mind reading: The puzzle of autism(2021-9-30)
;Noveck, IraMikhail Kissine’s (2021) target article examines autism in order to mine questions about language use and its cognitive underpinnings. Among these, we focus on the question concerning the role of mind reading in language interpretation. Kissine claims that the selective pragmatic profile of highly verbal autistic individuals undermines the existence of an ‘intrinsic link’ between language interpretation and mind reading. We advocate for a more cautious approach based on both theoretical and empirical arguments. Theoretically speaking, data from autism are compatible with the view that language interpretation is the result of a special-purpose form of mind reading, dedicated to the domain of intentional communication. Empirically speaking, the data are neither clear nor consistent enough for making strong claims about what exactly are the communicative challenges of highly verbal autistic individuals.
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- PublicationAccès librePragmatics and epistemic vigilance: The deployment of sophisticated interpretative strategies(2015-12-1)Sperber (1994) suggests that competent hearers can deploy sophisticated interpretative strategies in order to cope with deliberate deception or to avoid misunderstandings due to speaker’s incompetence. This paper investigates the cognitive underpinnings of sophisticated interpretative strategies and suggests that they emerge from the interaction between a relevance-guided comprehension procedure and epistemic vigilance mechanisms. My proposal sheds new light on the relationship between comprehension and epistemic assessment. While epistemic vigilance mechanisms are typically assumed to assess the believability of the output of the comprehension system (Sperber et al, 2010), I argue that epistemic assessment plays an additional role in determining this very output.
- PublicationAccès libreEpistemic Trust and the Emergence of Conduct Problems: Aggression in the Service of Communication(2021-9-23)
;Talia, Alessandro ;Duschinsky, Robbie ; ;Hauschild, SophieTaubner, Svenja
- PublicationAccès librePresuppositional effects and ostensive-inferential communication(2018-12-1)
- PublicationAccès libreFace Management and Negative Strengthening: The Role of Power Relations, Social Distance, and Gender(2021-9-27)
;Gotzner, NicoleNegated gradable adjectives often convey an interpretation that is stronger than their literal meaning, which is referred to as ‘negative strengthening.’ For example, a sentence like ‘John is not kind’ may give rise to the inference that John is rather mean. Crucially, negation is more likely to be pragmatically strengthened in the case of positive adjectives (‘not kind’ to mean rather mean) than negative adjectives (‘not mean’ to mean rather kind). A classical explanation of this polarity asymmetry is based on politeness, specifically on the potential face threat of bare negative adjectives (Horn, 1989; Brown and Levinson, 1987). This paper presents the results of two experiments investigating the role of face management in negative strengthening. We show that negative strengthening of positive and negative adjectives interacts differently with the social variables of power, social distance, and gender.