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Language, reason and education

Studies in honor of Eddo Rigotti


Edited By Giovanni Gobber and Andrea Rocci

Language as reason represents the unifying theme of this multifaceted reflection on Eddo Rigotti’s scientific contribution offered by his students and colleagues on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. Spanning argumentation theory, linguistics, psychology, semiotics and communication sciences, the volume reflects Rigotti’s generous personality and his trajectory of semiotician, philosopher, linguist and specialist in argumentation studies. Language as an instrument of communication with semiotic peculiarities is considered at different levels in which it manifests traces of reason at work. This means considering how reality reveals itself by means of language and how the semiotic character of language structures is used by people to enable joint actions and change the natural and social world. Particularly in focus is the realm of argumentation, that is of those joint actions where people exchange reasons in various communities, fora and markets in view of understanding and practical deliberation. To argumentation Eddo Rigotti devoted all his research efforts in recent years, with a keen sense of its intrinsic educational value and a sincere care for fostering the development of the argumentative mind.
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Jacques Moeschler: Causality and non-iconic order


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Causality and non-iconic order

JACQUES MOESCHLER, University of Geneva

1. Introduction

Causal relationships in discourse exhibit a specific linguistic property: the order of the discourse segments, as indicated by causal connectives, is not iconic, it does not reproduce the order of events in the world. Causal order in discourse is non-iconic, because it has a consequence-cause order rather than the iconic cause-consequence one.

Non-iconic order appears to be universal in natural languages. Diessel & Hetterle (2011) argue that temporal and conditional clauses are predominantly initial (45%) or mixed (initial and final for 53.3%), whereas causal adverbial clauses show a very different distribution among typologically representative natural languages: 45% are final, 30% are mixed, and only 25% are initial. This general data, obtained using precise corpus-based, statistical and typological parameters, empirically illustrates one of the main areas of research that is currently being conducted in the Linguistics Department of the University of Geneva1. The CAUSE Project, conductedby the author, is designed to explore four main issues:

1. A theoretical issue: what are the main criteria that define causal relationships in discourse? According to a theoretical perspective, it can be hypothesised that the order criterion (cause-consequence vs. consequence-cause) is the most relevant one. The CAUSE researchers ← 243 | 244 → claim, moreover, that the order criterion is not merely a general property of natural languages, and that it is widespread in languages of the world: our findings suggest that it is...

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