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1 Composing Utterance Meaning: An Interface Between Pragmatics and Psychology Anna Sysoeva and Kasia Jaszczolt University of Cambridge.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Composing Utterance Meaning: An Interface Between Pragmatics and Psychology Anna Sysoeva and Kasia Jaszczolt University of Cambridge."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Composing Utterance Meaning: An Interface Between Pragmatics and Psychology Anna Sysoeva and Kasia Jaszczolt University of Cambridge

2 2 1. In search for Primary Meaning: what is said, explicature, impliciture, meaning merger

3 3 2. Contextualism

4 4 1. In search for Primary Meaning: what is said, explicature, impliciture, meaning merger 2. Contextualism 3. Primary Meaning and the syntactic constraint

5 5 1. In search for Primary Meaning: what is said, explicature, impliciture, meaning merger 2. Contextualism 3. Primary Meaning and the syntactic constraint 4. Experimental evidence from English and Russian: our pilot study

6 6 1. In search for Primary Meaning: what is said, explicature, impliciture, meaning merger 2. Contextualism 3. Primary Meaning and the syntactic constraint 4. Experimental evidence from English and Russian: a pilot study 5. Truth-conditional analysis and psychological reality

7 7  (1) Mary hasn’t eaten. (minimal proposition)  (2) Mary hasn’t eaten breakfast yet. (what is said)  Modulation: a top-down pragmatically controlled process (Recanati, e.g. 2004, 2005)

8 8 Contextualism  ‘Contextualism ascribes to modulation a form of necessity which makes it ineliminable. Without contextual modulation, no proposition could be expressed…’ Recanati (2005: ).  ‘…there is no level of meaning which is both (i) propositional (truth-evaluable) and (ii) minimalist (that is, unaffected by top-down factors)’. Recanati (2004: 90)

9 9 Our View  There is a top-down process of pragmatic inference that interacts with the aspects of meaning provided by the sentence and the aspects of meaning provided by cultural and social assumptions ( cf. contextualism).  Not all utterances make use of this pragmatic process of ‘modulation’ (vs. contextualism)

10 10  The object of study of the truth-conditional theory of utterance meaning is the Primary Meaning intended by the Model Speaker and recovered by the Model Addressee.  This Primary Meaning need not obey the syntactic constraint, i.e. need not be dependent on the syntactic representation of the uttered sentence.

11 11 In Search for Primary Meaning  ‘What is said’: ‘What is said results from fleshing out the meaning of the sentence (which is like a semantic ‘skeleton’) so as to make it propositional.’ Recanati (2004: 6) Recanati (2004: 6)

12 12  Explicature ‘An assumption communicated by an utterance U is explicit if and only if it is a development of a logical form encoded by U’. Sperber and Wilson (1986/95: 182).

13 13  Middle level of ‘impliciture’, going beyond ‘what is said’ (Bach 1994, 2001, 2004, 2005): shares the same constraint of the sentence’s syntactic form as the ‘skeleton’

14 14  Default Semantics (Jaszczolt, e.g. 2005, 2006, 2007) Stage I: Processing of the truth-conditional content compositional merger representation Sources of information about meaning: 1. Combination of word meaning and sentence structure (WS) 2. Cognitive defaults (CD) 3. Social-cultural defaults (SCD 1 ) 4. Conscious pragmatic inference (CPI 1 )

15 15 Stage II: Processing of implicatures Sources of information about meaning: 1. Social-cultural defaults 2 (SCD 2 ) Conscious pragmatic inference 2 (CPI 2 )

16 16 Merger representation has to satisfy the methodological requirement of compositionality

17 17 Principle of compositionality for the meaning merger The meaning of the act of communication is a function of the meaning of the words; the sentence structure; cognitive, social and cultural assumptions, and conscious pragmatic inference.

18 18 (1) Mary hasn’t eaten. (2) Mary hasn’t eaten breakfast yet. (3) Mary is hungry.

19 19 Do we need the syntactic form constraint? 1. Intuitively available what is said, automatically processed (Recanati, e.g. 2004)x 2. Explicature + ad hoc concept construction (Carston, e.g. 2002)x 3. Meaning merger (Jaszczolt, e.g. 2005) x

20 20 The boundary between the primary meaning (salient meaning, meaning merger) and secondary meaning (implicatures) has to be psychologically real and empirically testable, but need not necessarily obey the syntactic constraint.

21 21 Experimental Evidence Pilot Study

22 22 Aim of the experiment Testing intuitions about primary meaning (PM)

23 23 Research questions  Does the PM that is available to people’s intuitions have to rely on the structural content of the uttered sentence?

24 24 Research questions  Does the PM that is available to people’s intuitions have to rely on the structural content of the uttered sentence? Hypothesis: NO

25 25 Research questions  What factors influence the type of intuitive truth conditions, their degree of closeness to the logical form (LF) of the uttered sentence?

26 26 Research questions  What factors influence the type of intuitive truth conditions, their degree of closeness to the logical form (LF) of the uttered sentence? - degree of directness of culture - degree of directness of the speech act (SA) - addressee's gender

27 27 Degree of directness of culture  Performing speech acts (SAs): Russians use more direct strategies than speakers of British English (Sysoeva 2005, Wierzbicka 1992).

28 28 Degree of directness of culture  Performing speech acts (SAs): Russians use more direct strategies than speakers of British English (Sysoeva 2005, Wierzbicka 1992).  Does the cultural preference for using more/less direct strategies have an effect on how often PM is represented by LF or by proposition functionally independent of LF?

29 29 Degree of directness of culture (2) Hypotheses:  Both (developed) LFs and functionally independent propositions (FIPs) may function as PMs in both cultures (despite differences in directness).

30 30 Degree of directness of culture Hypotheses:  For Russians PM is more frequently close to literal meaning of the uttered sentence than for British people.

31 31 Degree of directness of culture Hypotheses:  For Russians PM is more frequently close to the LF of the uttered sentence than for British people. “It’s chilly in here” - British culture: request to close the window (in a suitable context); - Russian culture: statement

32 32 Degree of directness of SA  Object of study – requests  Blum-Kulka et al. (1989): classification of request strategies on a universally valid scale of indirectness: - direct - conventionally indirect - non-conventionally indirect  Does the degree of directness of the strategy have an effect on the type of PM?

33 33 Design  Questionnaire: 14 story contexts containing utterances relying on request strategies with different degrees of directness. Continuum from most direct to most indirect strategies.

34 34 Request strategies in the questionnaire  Direct requests:

35 35 Request strategies in the questionnaire  Direct requests: 1. Illocutionary force (IF) is derivable from IF indicating devices:

36 36 Strategies of request performance  Direct requests: 1. Illocutionary force (IF) is derivable from IF indicating devices: a) mood derivable Michael: Hi George! How did your conference presentation go? George: It went very well. I got a lot of positive feedback. Michael: Congratulations! I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. Please, send me a copy of your talk. I’m very interested in your topic.

37 37 Strategies of request performance  Direct requests: 1. Illocutionary force (IF) is derivable from IF indicating devices: a) mood derivable b) IF is explicitly named (explicit performative) Mr Smith: I am happy to tell you that we’ve decided to make you a job offer, Mr White. Mr White: Thank you, Mr Smith. But I’m not really sure… Mr Smith: Please, don’t decide straight away, Mr White. I’m asking you to think about it first.

38 38 Strategies of request performance  Direct requests: 1. Illocutionary force (IF) is derivable from IF indicating devices 2. IF is derivable from semantic meaning of the locution Melanie: Are you really going to drive in this weather, John? John: Don’t worry, Melanie. I’ve driven in worse conditions. Melanie: Ok. But you should be careful. I’m very worried.

39 39 Strategies of request performance  Conventionally indirect requests Kate: Will you see Jenny today? Vicky: Yes, I’ll see her during lunch break. Kate: Can you give this book to her?

40 40 Strategies of request performance  Non-conventionally indirect requests (IF is derivable from speaker’s intention in a particular context) Andrew: Struggling with maths, Mary? Mary: Yes, I’m not sure I’ll manage to solve this problem by myself. I heard you’re good at maths, Andrew.

41 41 Task formulation  “Please read the dialogues given below. For each underlined sentence, write down the speaker’s main meaning in the space provided as clearly as you can.”  Free choice questionnaire: A better way testing people’s intuitions than forced choice questionnaires.

42 42 Participants  20 British male undergraduates  20 British female undergraduates  20 Russian male undergraduates  20 Russian female undergraduates

43 43 Variable under study Type of proposition that is identified by native speakers as primary communicated meaning

44 44 Variable under study Type of PM: 1. (D)LF - (developed) logical form – inferable on the basis of semantic content of the uttered sentence which may be developed to better reflect speaker’s intentions Jenny: Is this ring made of silver? Shop-assistant: Yes. Jenny: Show me size N, please. PM: Jenny is asking the shop assistant to show her a ring of size “N”.

45 45 Variable under study Type of PM: 1. (D)LF 2. FIP(s) – proposition(s) functionally independent from the LF with its developments Andrew: Struggling with maths, Mary? Mary: Yes, I’m not sure I’ll manage to solve this problem by myself. I heard you’re good at maths, Andrew. Response: Andrew, please help me do the maths problem.

46 46 Variable under study Type of PM: 1. (D)LF 2. FIP(s) 3. (D)LF + FIP(s)

47 47 (D)LF+FIP or FIP+(D)LF?  (D)LF+FIP Jane: Hi Mary! I didn’t see you at the first lecture. Mary: I forgot to set my alarm clock again. Do you have your notes with you? PM: Mary is asking if Jane has the lecture notes from the lecture she has missed, presumably so that she can borrow them to copy them up.  FIP+(D)LF James: Do you want me to open the window? Jessie: Well, it’s quite chilly in here actually. PM: Jessie doesn’t want James to open the window as she thinks it is cold.

48 48 Variable under study Type of PM: 1. (D)LF 2. FIP(s) 3. (D)LF + FIP(s) 4. (D)LF/FIP 5. (D)LF/FIP + FIP(s) Kate: Will you see Jenny today? Vicky: Yes, I’ll see her during lunch break. Kate: Can you give this book to her? PM: Can you give this book to her when you see her?

49 49 Results Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on the LF. Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on the LF.

50 50 Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on LF.

51 51 Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on LF.

52 52 Results Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on the LF. Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on the LF.

53 53 Results Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on the LF. Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on the LF. Hypothesis 2: Both (D)LFs and FIP(s) may function as PMs in both cultures (despite differences in directness). Hypothesis 2: Both (D)LFs and FIP(s) may function as PMs in both cultures (despite differences in directness).

54 54 Hypothesis 2: Both (D)LFs and FIP(s) may function as PMs in both cultures.

55 55 Results Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on the LF. Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on the LF. Hypothesis 2: Both (D)LFs and FIP(s) may function as PMs in both cultures (despite differences in directness). Hypothesis 2: Both (D)LFs and FIP(s) may function as PMs in both cultures (despite differences in directness).

56 56 Results Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on the LF. Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on the LF. Hypothesis 2: Both (D)LFs and FIP(s) may function as PMs in both cultures (despite differences in directness). Hypothesis 2: Both (D)LFs and FIP(s) may function as PMs in both cultures (despite differences in directness). Hypothesis 3: Less FIP(s) and more (D)LF(s) enter into PM in Russian as compared to British English. Hypothesis 3: Less FIP(s) and more (D)LF(s) enter into PM in Russian as compared to British English.

57 57 Hypothesis 3: Russians interpret PM as closer to literal meaning than British people.

58 58 Results Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on the LF. Hypothesis 1: Intuitive PM does not have to rely on the LF. Hypothesis 2: Both (D)LFs and FIP(s) may function as PMs in both cultures (despite differences in directness). Hypothesis 2: Both (D)LFs and FIP(s) may function as PMs in both cultures (despite differences in directness). Hypothesis 3: Less FIP(s) and more (D)LF(s) enter into PM Russian as compared to British English. Hypothesis 3: Less FIP(s) and more (D)LF(s) enter into PM Russian as compared to British English.

59 59 Differences between direct and indirect SAs

60 60  All the strategies elicited majority implicature responses

61 61  Distinct preference for FIP(s) in indirect SAs: more than 80% of indirect SAs give rise to FIP(s).

62 62  Direct SAs are interpreted more heterogeneously. FIP(s) still have majority (53%), but the preference for FIP(s) is not as strong as in indirect SAs.  89% of all the DLF(s) recovered is constituted by answers to direct SAs.

63 63 Direct SAs give rise to FIP(s) because  Implicature interpretation appears to be most relevant in some situations for some informants. PM emerges out of the merger of output of grammar with information that comes from other sources: context, default assumptions. Michael: Hi George! How did your conference presentation go? George: It went very well. I got a lot of positive feedback. Michael: Congratulations! I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. Please, send me a copy of your talk. I’m very interested in your topic. PM: I want to sound like I am interested in your presentation (or am genuinely interested) even though I wasn’t there.  Some situations gave rise to default interpretations: Jenny: Is this ring made of silver? Shop-assistant: Yes. Jenny: Show me size N, please. PM: I’d like to try on size N.

64 64 Variability of responses between people  Non-conventionally indirect requests (hints) gave rise to most unambiguous interpretations (most people recovered the same implicated content). Andrew: Struggling with maths, Mary? Mary: Yes, I’m not sure I’ll manage to solve this problem by myself. I heard you’re good at maths, Andrew. PM: The speaker is asking Andrew for help with her Maths.  By contrast, interpretation of direct SAs (especially derivable from semantic meaning of locution) varied between people. Melanie: Are you really going to drive in this weather, John? John: Don’t worry, Melanie. I’ve driven in worse conditions. Melanie: Ok. But you should be careful. I’m very worried. PMs: warning, request, expression of worry, statement, expression of fear to go in the car with John, expression of disapproval, order, advice

65 65

66 66 Conclusions  Syntactic constraint does not have to determine the representation of PM.

67 67 Conclusions  Syntactic constraint does not have to determine the representation of PM.  Psychologically real notion of ‘what is said’ has to do with the most relevant information conveyed by the utterance. It may be the content of the uttered sentence, the enriched content or the implicature.

68 68 Conclusions  Syntactic constraint does not have to determine the representation of PM.  Psychologically real notion of ‘what is said’ has to do with the most relevant information conveyed by the utterance. It may be the content of the uttered sentence, the enriched content or the implicature.  Particularised implicatures are often the most salient meanings.

69 69 Conclusions  Syntactic constraint does not have to determine the representation of PM.  Psychologically real notion of ‘what is said’ has to do with the most relevant information conveyed by the utterance. It may be the content of the uttered sentence, the enriched content or the implicature.  Particularised implicatures are often the most salient meanings.  Merger representation in Default Semantics is a psychologically plausible alternative to more traditional approaches in which a boundary is set between the level of enriched logical form and the level of implicit content (Carston 2002, Recanati 2004).

70 70 Other experiments on interpretation of speaker’s meaning ‘We suggest that, when given an instruction such as ‘select the paraphrase that best reflected what each sentence said’, subjects (…) try to work out the overall communicative intention behind the utterance’ Nicolle and Clark (1999: 351)

71 71 Other experiments on intepretation of speaker’s meaning ‘My final results (…) support Nicolle and Clark’s Relevance-based [hypothesis] by which the most salient – relevant – utterance interpretation arrives from our real-world assumptions.’ ‘In Availability terms, my results indicated that a level of implicature was more available than explicature as corresponding with [common-sense, KJ] what is said.’ Pitts (2005: 9-10)

72 72 Select Bibliography Bach, K ‘Semantic slack: What is said and more’. In: S. L. Tsohatzidis (ed.). Foundations of Speech Act Theory: Philosophical and Linguistic Perspectives. London: Routledge Bach, K ‘You don’t say?’ Synthese Bach, K ‘Minding the gap’. In: C. Bianchi (ed.). The Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction. Stanford: CSLI Publications Bach, K ‘Context ex Machina’. In: Z. G. Szabó (ed.). Semantics versus Pragmatics. Oxford: Clarendon Press Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G The CCSARP coding manual. In: S. Blum-Kulka, J. House, & G. Kasper (eds), Cross- cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Carston, R Thoughts and Utterances: The Pragmatics of Explicit Communication. Oxford: Blackwell. Jaszczolt, K. M Default Semantics: Foundations of a

73 73 Compositional Theory of Acts of Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Jaszczolt, K. M ‘Meaning merger: Pragmatic inference, defaults, and compositionality’. Intercultural Pragmatics Jaszczolt, K. M ‘Defaults in semantics and pragmatics’. In: Zalta, E. N. (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Jaszczolt, K. M ‘The syntax-pragmatics merger: Default Semantics for belief reports’. Pragmatics and Cognition Nicolle, S. & B. Clark ‘Experimental pragmatics and what is said: A response to Gibbs and Moise’. Cognition Noveck, I. A. & D. Sperber (eds) Experimental Pragmatics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Pitts, A ‘Assessing the evidence for intuitions about what is said’. Ms, University of Cambridge.

74 74 Recanati, F Literal Meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Recanati, F ‘Literalism and contextualism: Some varieties’. In: G. Preyer and G. Peter (eds). Contextualism in Philosophy: Knowledge, Meaning, and Truth. Oxford: Clarendon Press Sperber, D. & D. Wilson Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell. Second edition. Sysoeva, A. V ‘The saying / implicating distinction: a study with reference to advertising in Russian and English’. MPhil dissertation. Cambridge: University of Cambridge. Wierzbicka, A Semantics, Culture, and Cognition: Universal Human Concepts in Culture-specific Configurations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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