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. Group Speakers.Grace Paterson - 2020 - Language & Communication 70:59-66.
    This paper examines group speech acts to argue against the view, here called speaker intentionalism, that one is a speaker behind a speech act in virtue of having the relevant communicative illocutionary intention. An alternative view is presented called speaker responsibilism according to which one is a speaker in virtue of having certain responsibilities. Complexities are considered which arise from the kinds of responsibilities the speaker has and the specific ways in which they are acquired.
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  2. Proper Names as Anaphoric Expressions in Short Crime Stories: Doing More Than Referring Within and Across Paragraphs.A. Bonifazi, Pinelopi Ioannidou & Zala Salarzai - 2022 - Journal of Pragmatics 193:88-104.
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  3. Counterfactuals, Hyperintensionality and Hurford Disjunctions.Hüseyin Güngör - forthcoming - Linguistics and Philosophy:1-27.
    This paper investigates propositional hyperintensionality in counterfactuals. It starts with a scenario describing two children playing on a seesaw and studies the truth-value predictions for counterfactuals by four different semantic theories. The theories in question are Kit Fine’s truthmaker semantics, Luis Alonso-Ovalle’s alternative semantics, inquisitive semantics and Paolo Santorio’s syntactic truthmaker semantics. These predictions suggest that the theories that distinguish more of a given set of intensionally equivalent sentences (Fine and Alonso-Ovalle’s) fare better than those that do not (inquisitive semantics (...)
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  4. Acquaintance and Evidence in Appearance Language.Rachel Etta Rudolph - 2022 - Linguistics and Philosophy:1-29.
    Assertions about appearances license inferences about the speaker's perceptual experience. For instance, if I assert, 'Tom looks like he's cooking', you will infer both that I am visually acquainted with Tom (what I call the "individual acquaintance inference"), and that I am visually acquainted with evidence that Tom is cooking (what I call the "evidential acquaintance inference"). By contrast, if I assert, 'It looks like Tom is cooking', only the latter inference is licensed. I develop an account of the acquaintance (...)
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  5. Slurring and Common Knowledge of Ordinary Language.Richard Vallee - 2014 - Journal of Pragmatics 61:78-90.
    Ethnic slurs have recently raised interest in philosophy of language. Consider (1) Yao is Chinese and (2) Yao is a chink. A theory of meaning should take into account the fact that sentence (2) has the property of containing a slur, a feature plausibly motivating an utterance of (2) rather than (1), and conveys contempt because it contains that word. According to multipropositionalism, two utterances can have the same official truth conditions and the same truth-value but differ in cognitive significance (...)
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  6. Truth / Istina (Bosnian translation by Nijaz Ibrulj).Nijaz Ibrulj & John L. Austin - 2019 - Sophos 1 (12):173-187.
  7. Inquiries in Philosophical Pragmatics: Issues in Linguistics.Fabrizio Macagno & Alessandro Capone (eds.) - 2021 - Springer.
    Together with the first volume “Inquiries in philosophical pragmatics: Theoretical developments,” this book collects contributions that represent the state of the art on the interconnection between pragmatics and philosophy. While the first volume presents the philosophical dimension of pragmatics, showing the path from theoretical advances to practical uses and approaches, this second volume offers a specular view on this discipline. Instead of adopting the top-down view of the first volume, this collection of eleven chapters starts from the analysis of linguistic (...)
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  8. Inquiries in Philosophical Pragmatics. Theoretical Developments.Fabrizio Macagno & Alessandro Capone (eds.) - 2021 - Cham: Springer.
    Together with the volume “Inquiries in philosophical pragmatics: Linguistic and theoretical issues,” this book collects selected contributions to the conference Pragmasophia II held in Lisbon in 2018. This first volume intends to contribute to the dialogue between philosophers and linguists, trying to broaden the boundaries of this discipline defined by the crucial notions of context and verbal action. To this purpose, the contributions are collected in an order that reflects the core and the frontiers of pragmatics, the former constituted by (...)
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  9. Slurs, Neutral Counterparts, and What You Could Have Said.Arianna Falbo - 2021 - Analytic Philosophy 62 (4):359-375.
    Analytic Philosophy, Volume 62, Issue 4, Page 359-375, December 2021.
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  10. Reimagining Illocutionary Force.Lucy McDonald - forthcoming - The Philosophical Quarterly.
    Speech act theorists tend to hold that the illocutionary force of an utterance is determined by one interlocutor alone: either the speaker or the hearer. Yet experience tells us that the force of our utterances is not determined unilaterally. Rather, communication often feels collaborative. In this paper, I develop and defend a collaborative theory of illocutionary force, according to which the illocutionary force of an utterance is determined by an agreement reached by the speaker and the hearer. This theory, which (...)
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  11. Poetry and the Possibility of Paraphrase.Gregory Currie & Jacopo Frascaroli - 2021 - The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 79 (4):428-439.
    Why is there a long-standing debate about paraphrase in poetry? Everyone agrees that paraphrase can be useful; everyone agrees that paraphrase is no substitute for the poem itself. What is there to disagree about? Perhaps this: whether paraphrase can specify everything that counts as a contribution to the meaning of a poem. There are, we say, two ways to take the question; on one way of taking it, the answer is that paraphrase cannot. Does this entail that there is meaning (...)
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  12. Relevance and Emotion.Tim Wharton, Constant Bonard, Daniel Dukes, David Sander & Steve Oswald - 2021 - Journal of Pragmatics 181.
    The ability to focus on relevant information is central to human cognition. It is therefore hardly unsurprising that the notion of relevance appears across a range of different dis- ciplines. As well as its central role in relevance-theoretic pragmatics, for example, rele- vance is also a core concept in the affective sciences, where there is consensus that for a particular object or event to elicit an emotional state, that object or event needs to be relevant to the person in whom (...)
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  13. Semantica e Pragmatica: un'introduzione. Da Grice ai giorni nostri.Delia Belleri - 2021 - Bologna: CLUEB.
    This book (in Italian) provides an introduction to the debate about the distinction between semantics and pragmatics, starting with the work of Paul Grice, and touching on some of the most important authors and theories in the literature, including truth-conditional pragmatics, semantic minimalism, indexical and non-indexical contextualism.
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  14. Is Semantics Still Possible?Jonathan Berg - 2002 - Journal of Pragmatics 34 (4):349-359.
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  15. 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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  16. The Interrogation as a Type of Dialogue.Douglas Walton - 2003 - Journal of Pragmatics 35:1771-1802.
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  17. 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.
  18. 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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  19. Grammar, Ambiguity, and Definite Descriptions.Thomas J. Hughes - 2015 - Dissertation, Durham University
  20. 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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  21. Review of Dascal & Chang (2007): Traditions of Controversy. [REVIEW]Lily I.-wen Su - 2009 - Pragmatics and Cognition 17 (2):458-463.
  22. Review of Grundy (1995): Doing Pragmatics. [REVIEW]LuMing Mao - 1996 - Pragmatics and Cognition 4 (2):416-423.
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  23. Truth, Force, and Knowledge in Language: Essays on Semantic and Pragmatic Topics.Savas L. Tsohatzidis - 2020 - Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter.
    This book collects twenty-five of the author's essays, each of which addresses a descriptive or a foundational issue that arises at the interface between linguistic semantics and pragmatics, on the one hand, and the philosophy of language, on the other. Arranged into three interconnected parts (I. Matters of Meaning and Truth; II. Matters of Meaning and Force; III. Knowledge Matters), the essays suggest that some key topics in the above-mentioned fields have often been approached in ways that considerably underestimate their (...)
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  24. 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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  25. 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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  26. 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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  27. Statutory Interpretation: Pragmatics and Argumentation.Douglas Walton, Fabrizio Macagno & Giovanni Sartor - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Statutory interpretation involves the reconstruction of the meaning of a legal statement when it cannot be considered as accepted or granted. This phenomenon needs to be considered not only from the legal and linguistic perspective, but also from the argumentative one - which focuses on the strategies for defending a controversial or doubtful viewpoint. This book draws upon linguistics, legal theory, computing, and dialectics to present an argumentation-based approach to statutory interpretation. By translating and summarizing the existing legal interpretative canons (...)
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  28. Directional Bias.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    There is almost a consensus among conditional experts that indicative conditionals are not material. Their thought hinges on the idea that if indicative conditionals were material, A → B could be vacuously true when A is false, even if B would be false in a context where A is true. But since this consequence is implausible, the material account is usually regarded as false. It is argued that this point of view is motivated by the grammatical form of conditional sentences (...)
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  29. In Defence of 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, is not the truth values of its propositional contents. Extensional evidence is non-intensional evidence. Someone can accept a complex proposition, but deny its logical consequences 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 (...)
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  30. 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 Adams pair, which suggest that indicative and subjunctive conditionals have different truth conditions; and (3) the belief that it is an (...)
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  31. Indicative Conditionals Are Material - Expanding the Survey.Matheus Martins Silva - manuscript
    Adam Rieger (2013) has carried out a survey of arguments in favour of the material account of indicative conditionals. These arguments involve simple and direct demonstrations of the material account. I extend the survey with new arguments and clarify the logical connections among them. I also show that the main counter-examples against these arguments are not successful either because their premises are just as counter-intuitive as the conclusions, or because they depend on contextual fallacies. The conclusion is that the unpopularity (...)
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  32. 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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  33. 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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  34. 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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  35. Constituting Assertion: A Pragmatist Critique of Horwich’s ‘Truth’.Andrew Howat - 2018 - Synthese 195 (3):935-954.
    In his influential book Truth, Paul Horwich deploys a philosophical method focused on linguistic usage, that is, on the function(s) the concept of truth serves in actual discourse. In doing so Horwich eschews abstract metaphysics, arguing that metaphysical or ontological conceptions of truth rest on basic misconceptions. From this description, one might reasonably expect Horwich's book to have drawn inspiration from, or even embodied philosophical pragmatism of some kind. Unfortunately Horwich relies upon Russell's tired caricature of pragmatism about truth (''p' (...)
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  36. Classification and Ambiguity: The Role of Definition in a Conceptual System.Douglas Walton & Fabrizio Macagno - 2009 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 16 (29).
    With the advent of the semantic web, the problem of ambiguity is becoming more and more urging. Semantic analysis is necessary for explaining and resolving some sorts of ambiguity by inquiring into the relation between possibilities of predication and definition of a concept in order to solve problems such as interpretation and ambiguity. If computing is now approaching such problems of linguistic analysis, what is worth inquiring into is how the development of linguistic studies can be useful for developing the (...)
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  37. Interpreting Straw Man Argumentation.Fabrizio Macagno & Douglas Walton - 2017 - Amsterdam: Springer.
    This book shows how research in linguistic pragmatics, philosophy of language, and rhetoric can be connected through argumentation to analyze a recognizably common strategy used in political and everyday conversation, namely the distortion of another’s words in an argumentative exchange. Straw man argumentation refers to the modification of a position by misquoting, misreporting or wrenching the original speaker’s statements from their context in order to attack them more easily or more effectively. Through 63 examples taken from different contexts (including political (...)
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  38. 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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  39. The Ironist’s Intentions: Communicative Priority and Manifestness.Eleni Kapogianni - 2016 - Pragmatics Cognition 23 (1):150-173.
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  40. 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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  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. Defining Marriage: Classification, Interpretation, and Definitional Disputes.Fabrizio Macagno - 2016 - Informal Logic 36 (3):309-332.
    The classification of a state of affairs under a legal category can be considered as a kind of con- densed decision that can be made explicit, analyzed, and assessed us- ing argumentation schemes. In this paper, the controversial conflict of opinions concerning the nature of “marriage” in Obergefell v. Hodges is analyzed pointing out the dialecti- cal strategies used for addressing the interpretive doubts. The dispute about the same-sex couples’ right to marry hides a much deeper disa- greement not only (...)
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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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