|Abstract||We outline some components of a mentalist theory of human communicative competence. Communication in our species is an intentional and overt type of social interaction, based on each agent's capability of entertaining shared mental states and of acting so as to make certain mental states shared with the other. Communicative meaning is a matter of ascription: it is not an intrinsic property of a communicative act, but is instead created here and now as the shared construction of the interlocutors. We then discuss how communicative actions are superficially realized by our species, focusing in particular on the difference between linguistic and extralinguistic (that is, gestural) means of expression. Linguistic communication is the communicative use of a symbol system, whereas extralinguistic communication is the communicative use of a set of symbols. The difference turns out to be a matter of processing rather than of intrinsic structure.|
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