Origins of Meaning: Must We 'Go Gricean'?

Mind and Language 28 (3):342-375 (2013)
Authors
Dorit Bar-On
University Of Connecticut, Storrs
Abstract
The task of explaining language evolution is often presented by leading theorists in explicitly Gricean terms. After a critical evaluation, I present an alternative, non-Gricean conceptualization of the task. I argue that, while it may be true that nonhuman animals, in contrast to language users, lack the ‘motive to share information’ understood à la Grice, nonhuman animals nevertheless do express states of mind through complex nonlinguistic behavior. On a proper, non-Gricean construal of expressive communication, this means that they show to their designated audience (without intentionally telling)—and their designated audience recognizes (without rationally inferring)—both how things are in the world and how things are with them. Recognizing that our nonhuman predecessors were already proficient—though non-Gricean—sharers of such information would free us to focus on the more tractable problem of explaining how linguistic expressive vehicles came to replace, augment, and transform the nonlinguistic expressive means to which nonhuman animals are consigned.
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DOI 10.1111/mila.12021
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References found in this work BETA

Studies in the Way of Words.H. Paul Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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