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Elements of Hermeneutic Pragmatics

Agency and Interpretation


Tahir Wood

Can linguistic pragmatics be developed without the need to formulate rules, criteria or maxims? The author argues that rules as they have been conceived of within pragmatics, particularly speech act theory, are limiting and out of step with the linguistic science of recent decades.
Using a hermeneutic approach to pragmatics, this book seeks to bring pragmatics closer to the cognitive paradigm that has transformed the other branches of the linguistic and communication sciences, with the help of developments in certain neighbouring disciplines such as philosophy, sociology and narratology. The elements that are opened up to pragmatics in this approach include some new conceptions of intentionality, intertextuality, communicative action and literary authorship, as well as the subjectivity of interpretation, which by its very nature ceaselessly transforms all forms of communication in its historical spiral.
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Chapter 6: The Evolution of Narrative Genres



The Evolution of Narrative Genres

Genre as a type-structure for action

The notion of ‘text-as-action’ mentioned in my first chapter establishes the postulate that the production of a text is a communicative act and therefore that a type of text (genre) is a type of act. Just as we reiterate primary genres, so also with secondary genres as combinations of primary genres in certain kinds of configuration. Iteration (and thus conventionality) is necessarily a property of both. In both cases this iterability is to be explained as habitus rather than in terms of formal criteria such as rules, success conditions or felicity conditions. Another property of primary and secondary genres alike is that both are type structures defined according to intentional characteristics, meaning that they are in principle always recognizable, although recognition may require the availability of apt characterizations. As such both are vehicles for the purposes of communicating agents, although these purposes are not necessarily manifested or recognized. All genres, including the primary genres, can be multipurpose in nature. However, the secondary genres, because they are more complex, may well be more variable in their demands and possibilities for comprehension and interpretation than the everyday primary genres of speech, and may thus require (and attract) certain further expertise. ← 105 | 106 →


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