Pragmatics

Edited by Christopher Gauker (University of Salzburg)
About this topic
Summary Topics in the philosophy of language tend to fall into two main branches, pragmatics and semantics.  Roughly, semantics deals with conventional meaning.  Theories in formal semantics for natural language attempt to pair meanings with sentence-context pairs in some systematic way.  A primary test of correctness for a semantic theory is whether it allows us to define the logical properties of sentences (such as whether one sentence logically implies another).  The term “pragmatics” covers both a part of formal semantics, so defined, and also the study of the ways in which utterances effect communication.  The first kind of pragmatic theory deals with the way in which the extensions of terms and the truth values of sentences depend on features of the situation in which the sentence is spoken.  The second kind of pragmatic theory studies the nature of speech acts, such as asserting or asking, and also the ways in which speakers manage to convey more than the conventional meaning of the sentence uttered.  It is not always clear where in this taxonomy a given phenomenon should fall.  The topic of presupposition, for instance, has been located under all of these headings.
Key works The classics of pragmatics include Austin 1962, Searle 1969, Grice 1989, Kaplan 1989, Stalnaker 1973, and Lewis 1979.  More recent contributions that have drawn considerable attention include Bach 1994, Recanati 2002, Cappelen & Lepore 2005, and Stanley & Szabó 2000
Introductions

An excellent but now somewhat dated collection of classics is Stephen Davis, ed., Pragmatics: A Reader, Oxford University Press, 1991.  For a short overview of some current issues, see Gauker 2012.

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  1. Philosophy of Language.Salah Ismail - 2017 - Cairo, Egypt: Al Dar Almasriah Allubnaniah.
    Philosophy of Language, introduces students to the main issues and theories in twenty-first-century philosophy of language, focusing specifically on linguistic phenomena. Author Salah Ismail divided the book into seven chapters. Ch. I, Philosophy of language: Defining term and Indication of trends. Ch.2, Empirical theory in language learning (Quine). Ch.3, Mental theory in language learning and its knowledge (Chomsky). Ch.4, Theories of meaning, surveys the competing theories of linguistic meaning and compares their various advantages and liabilities; theory of ideas, theory of (...)
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  2. The Theory of Meaning in the Philosophy of Paul Grice.Salah Ismail - 2007 - Modern Quba: Cairo, Egypt.
    The primary function that philosophy has to perform is analysis of meanings. Contemporary philosophy is a story of the idea of meaning, in the words of Gilbert Ryle. The study of meaning in our time takes several ways. Two ways come in the forefront. The first relates to the formal theories proposed by Frege, earlier Wittgenstein, Quine, Chomsky and Dummmett. The second relates to the theories of use suggested by the later Wittgenstein, Austin, Ryle, Strawson, Grice and Searle. Formal theories (...)
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  3. The “All Lives Matter” Response: QUD-Shifting as Epistemic Injustice.Jessica Keiser - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    This paper uses the “All Lives Matter” response to the “Black Lives Matter” slogan as a case study in epistemic injustice by shifting the Question Under Discussion. Drawing on recent work in formal pragmatic theory, I show that the manipulation of discourse structure—in particular, by way of shifting the Question Under Discussion mid-discourse—can constitute an act of epistemic injustice. I argue that the “All Lives Matter” response to the “Black Lives Matter” slogan is one such case; this response shifts the (...)
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  4. Simulating Grice: Emergent Pragmatics in Spatialized Game Theory.Patrick Grim - 2011 - In Anton Benz, Christian Ebert & Robert van Rooij (eds.), Language, Games, and Evolution. Springer-Verlag.
    How do conventions of communication emerge? How do sounds or gestures take on a semantic meaning, and how do pragmatic conventions emerge regarding the passing of adequate, reliable, and relevant information? My colleagues and I have attempted in earlier work to extend spatialized game theory to questions of semantics. Agent-based simulations indicate that simple signaling systems emerge fairly naturally on the basis of individual information maximization in environments of wandering food sources and predators. Simple signaling emerges by means of any (...)
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  5. Girl Talk: Understanding Negative Reactions to Female Vocal Fry.Monika Chao & Julia R. S. Bursten - 2021 - Hypatia 36 (1):42-59.
    Vocal fry is a phonation, or voicing, in which an individual drops their voice below its natural register and consequently emits a low, growly, creaky tone of voice. Media outlets have widely acknowledged it as a generational vocal style characteristic of millennial women. Critics of vocal fry often claim that it is an exclusively female vocal pattern, and some say that the voicing is so distracting that they cannot understand what is being said under the phonation. Claiming that a phonation (...)
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  6. Una nota sulla pragmatica musicale.Salvatore Pistoia-Reda - 2020 - de Musica 1 (24):173-178.
    In questa nota si fornisce un esempio preliminare di analisi pragmatica delle strutture musicali. Nell’analisi, la stipulazione di una pragmatica musicale segue strettamente recenti proposte presentate in ambito semantico, in cui si illustrano le potenziali virtù rappresentazionali delle strutture musicali. In particolare, in questa nota si suggerisce la presenza di strategie di ricostruzione dei significati musicali le quali intervengono a prevenire la realizzazione di contenuti semantici contraddittori. L’evidenza utilizzata è ricavata da alcune misure del madrigale primo del II libro dei (...)
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  7. Critical Faults and Fallacies of Questioning.Douglas N. Walton - 1991 - Journal of Pragmatics 15:337--366.
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  8. Slurs, Neutral Counterparts, and What You Could Have Said.Arianna Falbo - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy 1.
    Recent pragmatic accounts of slurs argue that the offensiveness of slurs is generated by a speaker's free choice to use a slur opposed to a more appropriate and semantically equivalent neutral counterpart. I argue that the theoretical role of neutral counterparts on such views is overstated. I consider two recent pragmatic analyses, Bolinger (2017) and Nunberg (2018), which rely heavily upon the optionality of slurs, namely, that a speaker exercises a deliberate lexical choice to use a slur when they could (...)
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  9. A Linguistic Framework for Knowledge, Belief, and Veridicality Judgement.Anastasia Giannakidou & Alda Mari - manuscript
  10. From Recognition to Acknowledgement: Rethinking the Perlocutionary.Daniele Lorenzini - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    In this paper, I argue that a serious philosophical investigation of the domain of the perlocutionary is both possible and desirable, and I show that it possesses a distinctively moral dimension that has so far been overlooked. I start, in Section II, by offering an original characterisation of the distinction between the illocutionary and the perlocutionary derived from the degree of predictability and stability that differentiates their respective effects. In Section III, I argue that, in order to grasp the specificity (...)
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  11. The Interrogation as a Type of Dialogue.Douglas Walton - 2003 - Journal of Pragmatics 35:1771-1802.
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  12. The Varieties of Verbal Irony.Arthur Sullivan - 2019 - Lingua 232.
    This paper has two interconnected goals -- one defensive and fairly conservative, the other more novel and enterprising. The first goal is to defend a broadly Gricean approach to verbal irony from the post-Gricean criticisms which have emerged in the intervening literature --i.e., all things considered, verbal irony is best viewed as one among many species of particularized conversational implicature. The subsequent goal is to work toward developing a significantly original theory of verbal irony, within this Gricean orientation, which aims (...)
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  13. Evaluating the Cancellability Test.Arthur Sullivan - 2017 - Journal of Pragmatics 121:162-174.
    This paper considers four lines of objection to the efficacy or worth of Grice's cancellability test for conversational implicatures – the coherence objection, the entailment objection, the sarcasm objection, and the ambiguity objection. I argue that the test survives these objections relatively unscathed; and hence conclude that the cancellability test is still a significant, useful, reliable indicator at the semantics/pragmatics interface.
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  14. The Origin of the Social Approach in Language and Cognitive Research Exemplified by Studies Into the Origin of Language.Nathalie Gontier - 2009 - In H. Pishwa (ed.), Language and Social Cognition: Expressions of the social mind. pp. 25-46.
  15. Why `Might'?Giorgio Sbardolini - manuscript
    Why do we use epistemic modals like 'might'? According to Factualism, the function of 'might' is to exchange information about state-of-affairs in the modal universe. As an alternative to Factualism, this paper offers a game-theoretic rationale for epistemic possibility operators in a Bayesian setting. The background picture is one whereby communication facilitates coordination, but coordination could fail if there's too much uncertainty, since the players' ability to share a belief is undermined. However, 'might' and related expressions can be used to (...)
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  16. Grammar, Ambiguity, and Definite Descriptions.Thomas J. Hughes - 2015 - Dissertation, Durham University
  17. Review of Capone (2010): Perspectives on Language Use and Pragmatics. A Volume in Memory of Sorin Stati. [REVIEW]Valentina Cuccio - 2011 - Pragmatics and Cognition 19 (1):174-180.
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  18. Review of Dascal & Chang (2007): Traditions of Controversy. [REVIEW]Lily I.-wen Su - 2009 - Pragmatics and Cognition 17 (2):458-463.
  19. Review of Grundy (1995): Doing Pragmatics. [REVIEW]LuMing Mao - 1996 - Pragmatics and Cognition 4 (2):416-423.
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  20. Generics in Context: The Robustness and the Explanatory Implicatures.Martina Rosola - 2019 - In Gábor Bella & Paolo Bouquet (eds.), CONTEXT 2019: Modeling and Using Context. pp. 223-237.
    Generics are sentences that express generalizations about a category or about its members. They display a characteristic context-sensitivity: the same generic can express a statistical regularity, a principled connection, or a norm. Sally Haslanger (2014) argues that this phenomenon depends on the implicit content that generics carry in different contexts. -/- I elaborate on Haslanger’s proposal, arguing that the implicit content of generics is complex and constituted by two different propositions. A first proposition, that I here call the robustness proposition, (...)
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  21. Truth, Force, and Knowledge in Language: Essays on Semantic and Pragmatic Topics.Savas L. Tsohatzidis - 2020 - Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter.
  22. The status of individual and collective intentions in Searle's speech act theory.Alexa Bódog - 2012 - Argumentum 8:42-52.
    The present study focuses on the received version of speech act theory as developed by Searle. The aim of the paper is to demonstrate how Searle formulates precise and general conditions for illocutionary act individuation based on the linguistic description of inherent individual intentions. I argue for the impossibility of such individuation processes.
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  23. How to handle beliefs and knowledge: JL. Austin's philosophy of language.Alexa Bódog - 2012 - Argumentu 8:42-52.
    The present paper focuses on the Austinian approach to intentionality. My aim is to demonstrate that the Austinian concept and its application in the classical version of speech act theory are fundamentally different from the treatment of intentionality in the received version of speech act theory (as developed by Searle). The received version of speech act theory treats intentional states as a bunch of internal individual beliefs, desires, and intentions, while it assumes that conventions belong to the external social domains. (...)
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  24. On the relationship between communication and intentionality in pragmatics.Alexa Bódog - 2008 - Argumentum 4:22-51..
    The main hypothesis of the article is that there has been an attitude change in the field of pragmatics: the philosophical notion of intentionality has penetrated in a cognitive approach. The first aim is to argue for this attitude change via analyzing classical pragmatical writings (works of J. R. Searle and H. P. Grice) and the relevance- theoretical approach of D. Sperber and D. Wilson. The second aim is to argue for the legitimacy of the attitude change by presenting a (...)
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  25. A Quantificational Analysis of the Liar Paradox.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    It seems that the most common strategy to solve the liar paradox is to argue that liar sentences are meaningless and, consequently, truth-valueless. The other main option that has grown in recent years is the dialetheist view that treats liar sentences as meaningful, truth-apt and true. In this paper I will offer a new approach that does not belong in either camp. I hope to show that liar sentences can be interpreted as meaningful, truth-apt and false, but without engendering any (...)
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  26. Conditional Sentences as Implication Statements: A New Approach.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    It is usually accepted that conditional sentences are sui generis and enigmatic. In this paper I try to make them more accessible by interpreting them as claims to relations of implication restricted to a parameter world. This interpretation revives an old idea that fell into disuse, but in its improved version leads to refreshing solutions to known problems in conditional theory. The many benefits of this approach are evidenced by its insightful explanation of some apparent counter-examples to classical argumentative forms (...)
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  27. In Defense of Hypothetical Syllogism.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    Moti Mizrahi (2013) presented a putative counterexample to Hypothetical Syllogism (HS) for indicative conditionals aiming to succeed where previous attempts to refute HS have failed. Lee Walters (2014a) objected that Mizrahi’s putative counterexample results from an inadequate analysis of conditionals with embedded modals, but advanced new putative counterexamples to HS for subjunctive conditionals that are supposed to bypass this issue (Walters, 2014a; 2014b). It is argued that Walter’s analysis of embedded modals is unnecessary to prevent Mizrahi’s putative counterexample, since the (...)
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  28. The Material Account of Conditionals and the Clash Between Intensional and Extensional Evidence.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    Intensional evidence is any reason to accept a proposition that is not the truth values of the proposition accepted or, if it is a complex proposition, its propositional contents. Extensional evidence is non-intensional evidence. Someone can accept a complex proposition, but deny its logical consequences in two circumstances: (1) when her acceptance is based on intensional evidence, while the logical consequences of the proposition presuppose the acceptance of extensional evidence, e.g., she can refuse the logical consequence of a proposition she (...)
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  29. Subjunctive Conditionals Are Material.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    The material account claims that indicative conditionals are material. However, the conventional wisdom even among material account enthusiasts is that the material account cannot be extended to subjunctive conditionals. There are mainly three reasons that motivate this consensus: (1) the belief that if subjunctives were material, most subjunctive conditionals would be vacuously true, which is implausible; (2) its inconsistency with Adam pairs, which suggest that indicative and subjunctive conditionals have different truth conditions; and (3) the belief that it is an (...)
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  30. Indicative Conditionals Are Material - Expanding the Survey.Matheus Martins Silva - manuscript
    The material account of indicative conditionals states that indicative conditional sentences and the material implication have the same truth conditions. Recently, Adam Rieger has carried out a survey of arguments in favour of the material account. In this paper, I extend this survey by presenting yet more arguments for the material account. On top of presenting more arguments, I also want to argue that it is plausible to extend the material account to subjunctive conditionals. For that reason, the arguments here (...)
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  31. What is Happening to Our Norms Against Racist Speech?Jennifer Saul - 2019 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 93 (1):1-23.
    Until recently, the accepted wisdom in the US was that overt racism would doom a national political campaign. This led to the use of covert messaging strategies like dogwhistles. Recent political events have called this wisdom into question. In this paper, I explore what has happened in recent years to our norms against racist speech, and to the ways that they are applied. I describe several mechanisms that seem to have contributed to the changes that I outline.
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  32. Pragmatismo y pragmaticismo Condiciones semióticas para la fundamentación del conocimiento científico.Julio Horta - 2019 - In Publicaciones del Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales. Ciudad de México, CDMX, México: pp. 123-146.
    El presente artículo busca hacer una revisión del concepto de verdad como fundamento del conocimiento científico: desde el pragmatismo de William James y Jürgen Habermas hasta las nociones pragmáticas de Charles -/- Sanders Peirce, con la intención de mostrar los rasgos pertinentes -/- e insuficiencias de cada postura. De manera complementaria, se -/- buscará dar cuenta de los niveles: pragmático (semiótico-filosófico) -/- y pragmatista (psicológico), en los que funciona dicho concepto -/- dentro de la filosofía peirciana. Finalmente, tal esbozo teórico (...)
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  33. Espacio, significación y vivencia: implicaciones semióticas sobre la noción Centro Histórico.Julio Horta - 2015 - In Olimpia Niglio (ed.), edA. Roma, Italia: pp. 134-146.
    Este artículo tiene el objetivo de explorar algunas funciones semióticas que constituyen el espacio urbano. Se revisarán algunas categorías y operaciones semióticas relevantes en la comprensión del espacio para que, desde ahí, se pueda explorar el sentido de la noción Centro Histórico como un concepto fundamental en la construcción del imaginario social en las ciudades de occidente.
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  34. Historia y Semiótica. Categorías y relaciones filosóficas en la caracterización del espacio histórico.Julio Horta - 2012 - Madrid, España: Lap Lambert.
    El presente trabajo parte de un supuesto: la historia como un espacio semiotico que se edifica sobre la base de un sistema de categorias. En este sentido, los signos con los cuales se construye la realidad "ideal" de la historia se articulan en razon de correspondencias especificas determinadas por un esquema particular de relacion. Asi pues, el proposito de la este estudio es mostrar un espacio especulativo que de cuenta de las categorias de la filosofia de la historia, con las (...)
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  35. Perspectives on Pragmatics and Philosophy.Alessandro Capone, Franco Lo Piparo & Marco Carapezza (eds.) - 2013 - Springer.
    Alessandro Capone Franco Lo Piparo Marco Carapezza Editors Perspectives on Pragmatics and Philosophy Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology Volume 1 Editor-in-Cheif Alessandro. Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy ...
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  36. Antipositivist Arguments From Legal Thought and Talk: The Metalinguistic Response.David Plunkett & Tim Sundell - 2014 - In Graham Hubbs & Douglas Lind (eds.), Pragmatism, Law, and Language. Routledge. pp. 56-75.
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  37. Racial Figleaves, the Shifting Boundaries of the Permissible, and the Rise of Donald Trump.Jennifer M. Saul - 2017 - Philosophical Topics 45 (2):97-116.
    The rise to power of Donald Trump has been shocking in many ways. One of these was that it disrupted the preexisting consensus that overt racism would be death to a national political campaign. In this paper, I argue that Trump made use of what I call “racial figleaves”—additional utterances that provide just enough cover to give reassurance to voters who are racially resentful but don’t wish to see themselves as racist. These figleaves also, I argue, play a key role (...)
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  38. The Ironist’s Intentions: Communicative Priority and Manifestness.Eleni Kapogianni - 2016 - Pragmatics Cognition 23 (1):150-173.
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  39. El problema dejado por el pragmatismo y el lenguaje entendido como fenómeno dinámico.Alfonso José Pizarro Ramírez - 2014 - Anuario de Postgrado 10:173-186.
    En una primera parte expondré la crítica pragmatista a la visión tradicional del lenguaje; luego, contrastaré las visiones dentro de las que critican a la tradición: contextualismo y contextualismo radical. En una segunda expondré el tipo de semántica que se podría sostener bajo esta concepción del lenguaje: una semántica no proposicionalista. Finalmente, quisiera proponer que, así como en las ciencias sociales el localismo metodológico plantea la emergencia de entidades colectivas (ya sean las clases o instituciones) —sin ser meramente epifenomenales, que (...)
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  40. Recognizing Sarcasm Without Language: A Cross-Linguistic Study of English and Cantonese.Henry S. Cheang & Marc D. Pell - 2011 - Radical Philosophy Review of Books 19 (2):203-223.
    The goal of the present research was to determine whether certain speaker intentions conveyed through prosody in an unfamiliar language can be accurately recognized. English and Cantonese utterances expressing sarcasm, sincerity, humorous irony, or neutrality through prosody were presented to English and Cantonese listeners unfamiliar with the other language. Listeners identified the communicative intent of utterances in both languages in a crossed design. Participants successfully identified sarcasm spoken in their native language but identified sarcasm at near-chance levels in the unfamiliar (...)
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  41. Jacques Moeschler and Anne Reboul, Dictionnaire Encyclopédique de Pragmatique.Michel Musiol - 1995 - Pragmatics and Cognition 3 (2):386-394.
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  42. Problems of Discourse Theory.Robert Alexy - 1988 - Critica 20 (58):43-65.
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  43. Gossip as a Model of Inference to Composite Hypotheses.Tommaso Bertolotti & Lorenzo Magnani - 2014 - Pragmatics and Cognition 22 (3):309-324.
    In this paper we seek an inferential and cognitive model explaining some characteristics of abduction to composite hypotheses. In the first section, we introduce the matter of composite hypotheses, stressing how it is coherent with the intuitive and philosophical contention that a single event can be caused not only by several causes acting together, but also by several kinds of causation. In the second section, we argue that gossip could serve as an interesting model to study the generation of composite (...)
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  44. Thick Ethical Concepts.Pekka Väyrynen - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    [First published 09/2016; substantive revision 02/2021.] Evaluative terms and concepts are often divided into “thin” and “thick”. We don’t evaluate actions and persons merely as good or bad, or right or wrong, but also as kind, courageous, tactful, selfish, boorish, and cruel. The latter evaluative concepts are "descriptively thick": their application somehow involves both evaluation and a substantial amount of non-evaluative description. This article surveys various attempts to answer four fundamental questions about thick terms and concepts. (1) A “combination question”: (...)
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  45. Shift of Power in David Mamet’s Oleanna: A Study Within Grice’s Cooperative Principles.Roksana Dayani & Fazel Asadi Amjad - 2016 - International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences 72:76-82.
    Source: Author: Roksana Dayani, Fazel Asadi Amjad This article is devoted to analyze verbal interactions in Oleanna [1993] within Grice’s Cooperative Principles [1975] in order to illustrate how the shift of power gradually takes place in the academic discourse of the play. Maxims of this principle are applied on John’s utterances in the first act on which the foundation of asymmetric relationship is laid. As expected within Grice’s framework, the breaching of maxims, besides their observation, is performed by John through (...)
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  46. H. PUTNAM: Words and Life.Godehard Brüntrup - 1997 - Theologie Und Philosophie 72:465-467.
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  47. Nurturing Conversation Through Innovative Conference Design.P. C. Schroeder - 2015 - Constructivist Foundations 11 (1):77-79.
    Open peer commentary on the article “Designing Academic Conferences in the Light of Second-Order Cybernetics” by Laurence D. Richards. Upshot: Fostering conversation is shown to be a central element in a cybernetic approach to meeting design. A history of successful meetings on cybernetic themes suggests how designing for conversation may also be applied to academic conferences generally.
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  48. Authors’ Response: Conversation Never Ends.G. Dyer, G. Rowland & S. Zweifel - 2015 - Constructivist Foundations 11 (1):60-64.
    Upshot: Our five colleagues have offered what we consider to be complementary views and welcome suggestions. We extend the conversation with them by examining areas of agreement, responding to criticisms, and considering potential additions to the Banathy Conversation Methodology. We add a description of the mate tradition and further details on Las Conversaciones del Extremo Sur.
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  49. The Banathy Conversation Methodology.G. Dyer, J. Jones, G. Rowland & S. Zweifel - 2015 - Constructivist Foundations 11 (1):42-50.
    Context: Thirty years ago, members of the systems science community discovered that at their conferences, more was being accomplished in the breaks than in the sessions. Led by Bela H. Banathy, they cancelled the sessions and created a conversation methodology that has proven far more effective. Dozens of conversations have now been held around the world. Problem: At a recent conversation in Linz, Austria, a team devoted its inquiry to the Banathy Conversation Methodology itself, asking, in particular, how to develop (...)
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  50. Identity and Code Choice: Code-Switching and Social Identity Among Japanese/English Bilingual Siblings.Chad Nilep - 2004 - Actas Do II Simposio Internacional Sobre o Bilingüismo.
    Within the family, siblings work to create separate, stable social identities. One of the jobs of language socialization is the acquisition and appreciation of appropriate forms with which to perform the acts and stances which create social role. Children learn which roles are expected of them, and which forms are appropriate for the enactment of these roles in part through "trying on" various roles which may then be ratified or rejected by other members of the family. In addition to ratifying (...)
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