|Abstract||Many different enterprises go under the title of semantics or semantic theory. For each of these, there must be a correspondingly different conception of pragmatics, at least in those cases where such a distinction is admitted. On the relevance-theoretic view, which is the primary focus of this paper, the distinction between semantics and pragmatics is a distinction between two types of cognitive process employed in understanding utterances: decoding and inference. The decoding process is performed by an autonomous linguistic system, the parser or language perception module. Having identified a particular acoustic stimulus as linguistic, this system executes a series of deterministic grammatical computations, or mappings, resulting in an output representation, which is the semantic representation, or logical form, of the sentence or phrase employed in the utterance. It is a structured string of concepts, which has both logical and causal properties. The second type of cognitive process, the pragmatic inferential process, integrates the linguistic contribution with other readily accessible information in order to reach a confirmed interpretive hypothesis concerning the speaker's informative intention. This inferential phase of interpretation is constrained and guided by the communicative principle of relevance, which licences a hearer to look for an interpretation which interacts fruitfully with his cognitive system and does not put him to any unjustifiable processing effort.|
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