Modularity and speech acts

Pragmatics and Cognition 3 (1):1-29 (1995)
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Modules, as Marr and Fodor conceive of them, lie between sensory and central processes. Modules have the functional property of representing that portion of the world which turns them on, and nine non-functional or structural properties that facilitate carrying out that function. Fodor has proposed that the processing of linguistic information is carried out by a language module , which therefore has the functional and structural features of modules. We argue that the proposed LM does not have the functional property of modules in general . And we argue that Fodor's candidate for the output of the LM, interpreted syntactic form, does not satisfy important structural properties of modules . We propose another candidate, speech act potential, and argue that it fits almost all of Fodor's conditions . We next report on some pilot sentence completion studies suggesting that speech act information can influence the course of a parse and hence are a part of the LM . Finally, we outline possible experiments to test the modularity of speech act information by online methods of priming



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