Historicity in metapragmatics – a study on ‘discernment’ in Italian metadiscourse

Dániel Z. Kádár and Annick Paternoster

Abstract

The present paper contributes to meta pragmatics, by examining the question of how historicity influences the validity of certain modern meta terms that are accepted as ‘neutral’ and ‘scientific’ in pragmatics. We argue that it is fundamental to explore the history and development of such meta terms, and also to study their historically situated meanings, in order to increase the self-reflexivity and rigour of analyses. We analyse the notion of ‘discernment’ as a case study, and we will show that the way in which the Italian equivalent of this term (discernere) – which supposedly influenced historical English understandings of ‘discernment’ as well – is used in historical Italian meta discourses contradicts the modern application of this meta term.

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