Centre for Language and Linguistics


Jan 31
17:00 - 18:30
Letting It Slide: Incorporating Miscommunication in a Theory of Meaning
Centre for Language and Linguistics Invited Talk
Dr Chi-He Elder (University of East Anglia)

Abstract: Dominant accounts of 'speaker meaning' tend to focus on single utterances, making the theoretical assumption that the object of pragmatic analysis is restricted to cases where speakers and hearers agree on utterance meanings, leaving instances of misunderstandings out of their scope. However, divergences in understandings between interlocutors do often arise, and when they do, speakers can engage in a process of meaning negotiation. In this talk, I'll present a range of ways in which interlocutors 'miscommunicate' without necessarily realising it, showing how instances of miscommunication can range from benign to catastrophic. I'll then move to offer a view on speaker meaning that incorporates both speakers' and hearers' perspectives in the negotiation of meaning, that can account for both straightforward understandings – the canonical cases – and misunderstandings. I'll therefore highlight how utterance-level theories of meaning provide only a partial representation of speaker meaning as it is understood in interaction, and instead offer a more fine-grained account of how speakers converge on 'speaker meanings' in real time, showing how such meanings are often subject to a joint endeavour of complex inferential work.


Lecture Theatre 1,
Darwin College,
University of Kent,
United Kingdom


Open to all,

Contact: Dr Eleni Kapogianni
E: E.Kapogianni@kent.ac.uk

School of European Culture & Languages, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

Enquiries: +44 (0)1227 827159 or email the School of European Culture & Languages

Last Updated: 22/09/2015