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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton March 1, 2014

The pragmatics of insinuation

  • Marcella Bertuccelli Papi EMAIL logo
From the journal Intercultural Pragmatics


In this paper, I focus on insinuation as a communicative strategy whereby a speaker intends to make an addressee believe p, but does not want to be held accountable for communicating p. In its micro- or macro-textual format, and in its various degrees of nastiness, insinuation, I claim, is a complex process that presupposes the mind's capability to simultaneously activate and run multiple parallel mental spaces, associated to different intentions. Through the analysis of some examples, indirectness, manipulation, and deception will be shown to be involved in the process to varying degrees. In the final section of the paper I discuss how a Relevance-theoretic framework is able to accommodate the cognitive aspects of insinuation highlighted in the text.

Published Online: 2014-3-1
Published in Print: 2014-3-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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