Making meaning out of epistemicity markers (and scalars): A psycholinguistic investigation of incremental pragmatic interpretation

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Title: Making meaning out of epistemicity markers (and scalars): A psycholinguistic investigation of incremental pragmatic interpretation
Authors: Macuch Silva, Vinicius
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Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Michael Franke
Thesis referee: Prof. Dr. Manfred Krifka
Abstract: In this dissertation, I investigate a central question in the modern inquiry into human language, namely that of how language users interpret utterances as they process them in real time, and what some of the pragmatic principles behind that might be. I juxtapose seemingly disparate themes with the goal of illustrating how pragmatic phenomena – which are incredibly rich and diverse by nature – can be brought together under an account of interpretation as an abductive process of evidence accumulation. My argumentation builds on four empirical studies focused on the interpretation of scalar expressions (Chapter 2), questions (Chapter 3), discourse particles (Chapter 4), and adjectives (Chapter 5). Taken as a unified collection of explorations on pragmatic processing, these studies contribute to the larger body of work in pragmatics and the language sciences in two significant ways: on the one hand, they provide new empirical insights to long discussed issues in the literature; on the other hand, they extend the theoretical and empirical coverage of experimental research on pragmatics to phenomena which have received little to no attention in the psycholinguistic literature. All in all, I argue that our understanding of linguistic pragmatic phenomena and their cognitive underpinnings can be enriched by construing variability in pragmatic interpretation as a function not only of the degree of conventionalization of the different meanings associated with a linguistic form but also of the potential indexical relation between a form and its meaning (Chapter 6). In doing so, I highlight a still pervasive disconnect in the language sciences, namely that between propositional and non-propositional aspects of language and its use. By exploring from a cognitive standpoint themes which expand the purview of psychologically-oriented research on pragmatics to phenomena more closely related to the intersubjective nature of language use, this work underlines the interconnectedness between form and function in language. Ultimately, it also underlines the importance of looking, even if slightly, beyond the usual dichotomy between denotation and non-referentiality.
Subject Keywords: psycholinguistics; pragmatics; incremental interpretation; epistemicity markers
Issue Date: 20-Nov-2023
License name: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Germany
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Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB08 - E-Dissertationen

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