UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


UCL Pragmatics Serminar - Nausicaa Pouscoulous

29 January 2020, 2:00 pm–4:00 pm

Graduate seminar series on pragmatics

Pragmatics Graduate Seminar (sponsored by LAHP) that will run this term on the theme: Speakers’ commitment to their utterance content and hearers’ epistemic vigilance in accepting that content.

Event Information

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Nausicaa Pouscoulous – Linguistics


Chandler House
2 Wakefield Street
United Kingdom

In this talk the speaker presents a mechanistic framework for understanding speaker meaning and commitment. Acts of speaker meaning are understood as the characteristic function or effect of the productive aspect of the cognitive mechanism responsible for pragmatic competence. The nature and structure of this mechanism is explored by identifying disruptions of its characteristic function and interaction with mechanisms at other levels.

Speaker meaning and speaker commitment are distinct. The former is a complex audience-directed mental state, characterized by a trio of informative, communicative, and directive intentions (this last being Grice’s ‘third clause’). The latter (as normally understood) consists in having a disposition to represent oneself to oneself as having a particular mental state, for example in self-directed acts of speaker meaning. Speakers can self-deceive about what they mean, for instance when I intend something as an order but represent myself to myself as making a suggestion. The former and not the latter determines the force of the speaker’s utterance.

The speaker will argue that the mechanistic perspective provides new foundations for Grice’s distinction between natural and nonnatural meaning, retaining his ‘third clause’, and explaining acts of singular reference as a type of nonnatural speaker meaning. This is the substance of Chapter 5 in the book the speaker is working on (From Thought to Reference). In this talk the speaker gives a general overview of the project in the book and then go into the specifics of Chapter 5. The speaker would be more than happy to share the book draft, before the talk, with those who are interested. The speaker's email is elmar.geir@gmail.com



About the Speaker

Elmar Unnseinsson

at University College Dublin and University of Iceland