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Meaning and Relevance

Meaning and Relevance

by Deirdre Wilson, Dan Sperber

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When people speak, their words never fully encode what they mean, and the context is always compatible with a variety of interpretations. How can comprehension ever be achieved? Wilson and Sperber argue that comprehension is a process of inference guided by precise expectations of relevance. What are the relations between the linguistically encoded meanings studied in semantics and the thoughts that humans are capable of entertaining and conveying? How should we analyse literal meaning, approximations, metaphors and ironies? Is the ability to understand speakers' meanings rooted in a more general human ability to understand other minds? How do these abilities interact in evolution and in cognitive development? Meaning and Relevance sets out to answer these and other questions, enriching and updating relevance theory and exploring its implications for linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science and literary studies.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521747486
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 03/22/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 395
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Deirdre Wilson is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at University College London and Research Professor at the Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature at the University of Oslo.

Dan Sperber is Emeritus Directeur de Recherche at the Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS, Paris and part-time university professor in the departments of philosophy and cognitive science at the Central European University, Budapest.

Table of Contents

Introduction: 1. Pragmatics; Part I. Relevance and Meaning: 2. The mapping between the mental and the public lexicon; 3. Truthfulness and relevance; 4. Rhetoric and relevance; 5. A deflationary account of metaphors; 6. Explaining irony; Part II. Explicit and Implicit Communication: 7. Linguistic form and relevance; 8. Pragmatics and time; 9. Recent approaches to bridging: truth, coherence, relevance; 10. Mood and the analysis of non-declarative sentences; 11. Metarepresentation in linguistic communication; Part III. Cross-disciplinary Themes: 12. Pragmatics, modularity and mindreading; 13. Testing the cognitive and communicative principles of relevance; 14. The why and how of experimental pragmatics; 15. A pragmatic perspective on the evolution of language.

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