Article published in:Language Structure and Environment: Social, cultural, and natural factors
Edited by Rik De Busser and Randy J. LaPolla
[Cognitive Linguistic Studies in Cultural Contexts 6] 2015
► pp. 31–44
Chapter 2. On the logical necessity of a cultural and cognitive connection for the origin of all aspects of linguistic structure
This chapter presents a view of communication not as coding and decoding, but as ostension and inference, that is, one person doing something to show the intention to communicate, and then another person using abductive inference to infer the reason for the person’s ostensive act, creating a context of interpretation in which the communicator’s ostensive act “makes sense”, and thereby inferring the communicative and informative intention of the person. Language is not necessary for communication in this view, but develops as speakers use linguistic patterns over and over again to constrain the addressee’s creation of the context of interpretation. Speakers choose which aspects to constrain the interpretation of, and language forms conventionalize from frequent repetition. As constraining the interpretation requires more effort than not constraining it in that way, it must be important to the speakers to constrain that particular aspect of the meaning, otherwise they would not put in the extra effort. Logically, then, the forms that do conventionalize must have been motivated by the cognition and culture of the speakers of the language when they conventionalized, even though over time the motivation is often lost and the form continues to be used only due to convention and habit.
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