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Lecture | Interactionality seminars

Interaction in language, language in interaction - Some exercises in the philosophy of linguistics

Monday 13 February 2023
Interactionality seminars
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


In this session, I would like to discuss some general ideas about the relation between language and interaction, starting from just a few (but elementary) observations.I will start with contrasting two rather different ways of managing the degree to which a speaker commits herself to (the truth of) her utterance (taken from Van Duijn & Verhagen 2018), and how this observation makes it necessary to

  1. distinguish between encoded meanings and inferred 'meaning' (cf. Verhagen 2019), which we might sensibly consider the objects of semantics and pragmatics, respectively (nothing really hinges on the terminology, but the distinction has be made somehow);
  2. include consideration of third parties into accounts of speaker-addressee-interaction, which tells us something about characteristics of the 'conceptual space' of intersubjectivity.

However, further conceptual elaboration and explication of several distinctions involved also makes it clear that we really need to be more precise in the use of terminology denoting such notions, in order to differentiate conceptual from truly empirical issues in linguistic analyses (cf. Verhagen 2021). Some (but not all) candidate topics for discussion are:

  1. Pragmatics as a (universal) theory of rational coordinated action (="interaction"?);
  2. The proper characterization of linguistic signs in relation to other types of signs (pointing, icons, symptoms);
    3) Semantics as (partly?) a culture-specific enterprise (describing *encoded* meanings, i.e. *conventions* for the use of linguistic symbols);
  3. Status and emergence of conventions (as social phenomena) as opposed to habits (as individual phenomena);
  4. The source of the conceptual space of intersubjectivity in elementary properties of
  5. Consequences of the fact that conventions (especially linguistic ones), as cultural tools for coordinated action, are themselves subject to principles of pragmatics (in the sense of 1) above).

What issues we will actually cover, will depend on the way the discussion in the session develops, but I would like to end with a few other relevant observations in the same spirit as those at the start.


Van Duijn & Verhagen (2018)

Verhagen (2019)

Verhagen (2021)

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