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Intercultural Pragmatics

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Volume 12, Issue 3


On weak communication

José María Gil
Published Online: 2015-09-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2015-0019


Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson suggest that much of linguistic communication is weak because the hearer usually must take a great responsibility in the interpretation of the speaker’s utterance. Sometimes, the (very) “weak implicatures” supplied by the hearer are very different from (and even incompatible with) the speaker’s intention. Relevance Theory helps us to understand crucial aspects of weak communication. However, I aim at showing that pragmatic theory should reconsider the importance of intention in order to explain that, often, the hearer interprets certain meanings that are independent from (or even incompatible with) the speaker’s intention. Some types of inferences proposed by Mira Ariel, as well as unintended puns studied by Sydney Lamb and other stratificational linguists, help us to begin to show that it may be necessary to go beyond the concept of intention if we want to understand why and how human communication is weak.

Keywords: communication; cognition; weak implicatures; truth compatible inferences; relational networks


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About the article

José María Gil

José María Gil received his PhD from the University of La Plata (Argentina). He teaches Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of Mar del Plata, and he is an Adjunct Researcher to the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET), in his country. Thanks to various international fellowships, he has studied or worked in Mexico, England, Italy, the USA, and China.

Published Online: 2015-09-03

Published in Print: 2015-09-01

Citation Information: Intercultural Pragmatics, Volume 12, Issue 3, Pages 387–404, ISSN (Online) 1613-365X, ISSN (Print) 1612-295X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2015-0019.

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