Truthfulness and relevance

Wilson, Deirdre and Sperber, Dan (2002) Truthfulness and relevance. [Journal (Paginated)] (In Press)

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This paper questions the widespread view that verbal communication is governed by a maxim, norm or convention of truthfulness which applies at the level of what is literally meant, or what is said. Pragmatic frameworks based on this view must explain the frequent occurrence and acceptability of loose and figurative uses of language. We argue against existing explanations of these phenomena and provide an alternative account, based on the assumption that verbal communication is governed not by expectations of truthfulness but by expectations of relevance, raised by literal, loose and figurative uses alike. Sample analyses are provided, and some consequences of this alternative account are explored. In particular, we argue that the notions of ‘literal meaning’ and ‘what is said’ play no useful theoretical role in the study of language use, and that the nature of explicit communication will have to be rethought.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:cognition, communication, implicature, linguistics, literalness, philosophy of language, pragmatics, psychology, relevance, relevance theory, tropes, truthfulness, vagueness, what is said, explicitness, explicature, Grice
Subjects:Linguistics > Pragmatics
Philosophy > Philosophy of Language
Psychology > Psycholinguistics
ID Code:2226
Deposited By: Sperber, Dan
Deposited On:28 May 2002
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54

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