Mind 111 (443):583-632 (2002)

Authors
Dan Sperber
Institut Jean Nicod
Deirdre Wilson
University College London
Abstract
This paper questions the widespread view that verbal communication is governed by a maxim, norm or convention of truthfulness which applies at the level of what is literally meant, or what is said. Pragmatic frameworks based on this view must explain the frequent occurrence and acceptability of loose and figurative uses of language. We argue against existing explanations of these phenomena and provide an alternative account, based on the assumption that verbal communication is governed not by expectations of truthfulness but by expectations of relevance, raised by literal, loose and figurative uses alike. Sample analyses are provided, and some consequences of this alternative account are explored. In particular, we argue that the notions of ‘literal meaning’ and ‘what is said’ play no useful theoretical role in the study of language use, and that the nature of explicit communication will have to be rethought.
Keywords relevance
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DOI 10.1093/mind/111.443.583
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References found in this work BETA

Studies in the Way of Words.H. P. Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Philosophical Papers.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - Routledge.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Evidence for Relativism.Max Kölbel - 2009 - Synthese 166 (2):375-395.
Pragmatics, Modularity and Mind‐Reading.Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 2002 - Mind and Language 17 (1-2):3–23.
Relevance Theory.Deirdre Wilson & Dan Sperber - 2002 - In L. Horn & G. Ward (eds.), The Handbook of Pragmatics. Blackwell. pp. 607-632.
Lying as a Scalar Phenomenon.Neri Marsili - 2014 - In Sibilla Cantarini, Werner Abraham & Elizabeth Leiss (eds.), "Certainty-uncertainty – and the attitudinal space in between”,. John Benjamins Publishing.

View all 72 citations / Add more citations

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