Experimental pragmatics

Ira NoveckNicola Spotorno
Table of contents

Imagine sitting at a bar where someone woefully says, “Some jobs are jails.” This can be readily understood to implicate that some jobs are confining (or dispiriting, demoralizing etc.) and, if one wants to be even more precise, it could be taken to mean some but not all jobs are confining and so on. Both of these propositions go beyond what was literally said and – remarkably – arriving at these interpretations appears relatively routine. However, as is the case for many everyday experiences, it is a challenge to understand how it works. This explains, at least partly why there is a field of study, linguistic-pragmatics, devoted to investigating how such intended interpretations come about. Experimental Pragmatics can be viewed as a subdiscipline devoted to testing and advancing pragmatic accounts through psychological experiments.

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