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Cognitive and Pragmatic Aspects of Speech Actions

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Edited By Iwona Witczak-Plisiecka

This volume contains papers which reflect current discussions in the study of speech actions. The collection was inspired by the papers presented at Meaning, Context and Cognition, the first international conference integrating cognitive linguistics and pragmatics initiated by the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics of the University of Łódź (Poland) in 2011 and held annually. The necessarily heterogeneous field of research into speech actions is approached by the contributors from various perspectives and with focus on different types of data. The papers have been grouped into four sections which subsequently emphasise theoretical linguistics issues, lexical pragmatics, speech act-theoretic problems, and cognitive processes.
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Context, Topic and the Resolution of Polysemy

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Tahir Wood, University of the Western Cape

Abstract

This chapter attempts to distinguish theoretically between semantics and pragmatics in a new way. It shows that both semantics and pragmatics span a continuum from explicitness to inexplicitness, according to the need for contextual information in interpretation. The greater focus is on semantics and it is demonstrated how semantic processes make up three distinct levels of meaning: lexical, propositional and discursive. Transitions from one level to the next are explained using Visetti and Cadiot’s theory of semantic forms. Resolution of polysemy is described as a purely semantic process. At the discursive level semantics becomes content, relating to theme and to topic, and it is distinguished from pragmatics, where the latter is characterised as function or use.

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