Jef VerschuerenFrank Brisard
Table of contents

The notion of adaptation or adaptability inevitably triggers associations with evolutionary theory. In a discussion of language, this link is both a useful and a potentially pernicious one. It is useful, since the emergence and development of language are no doubt part of a wider adaptive process. This will be briefly discussed in Section 2.1 of the present contribution. But there is more. Having emerged, language can also be said to function adaptively in its everyday manifestations. This will be the topic of Section 2.2. The pernicious nature of the intuitive link between the notion of adaptability and evolutionary theory manifests itself when it is all too easily assumed, as happens regularly, that the originally biological notion remains unchanged when used as in the second part of this exposition. There we will first present a brief account of a proposal to turn adaptability into a key concept for a theory of pragmatics (Section 3.1), followed by a quick glance at some of the ways in which an adaptability perspective has been, or is being, applied to a variety of topics in the field of pragmatics (Section 3.2).

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