RandallButh wrote:You can't 'reject' it. They are parameters, fields. That fact that pieces of language interact in both dimensions doesn't drop their usefulness or validity. Like tense-aspect-mood. One doesn't drop them just because some languages mix them like the particle-wave nature of light.
Randall, you've made a lot of assumptions on the basis on fewer than 10 words of my own. Surely you don't think that
I'm quite close to rejecting it in its entirety
encompasses my thoughts on the matter.
First of all, we need to distinguish the linguistics categories of semantics and pragmatics from the fields of semantics and pragmatics. They're not the same thing. The field of pragmatics is interested in the study of speech acts, reference, deixis, definiteness, implicature and presupposition. And I do not discount that these are all useful for study. I am currently working on deixis in the Greek pronominal system, but I think we both know that in actual language use, the line between where semantics ends and pragmatics begins is less than clear. The study of definiteness is a subfield of pragmatics, but languages differ in how its expressed. Russian with its lack of an article, uses word order to mark an entity or participant as identifiable/definite (Word order and information structure in Russian syntax
), but in English, Greek and other languages that have an article (or two) definiteness (the domain of pragmatics) is grammaticalized. Is it then semantic in English and Greek, but pragmatic in Russian. Where does one end and the other begin?
John Taylor in Linguistic Categorization
has a useful discussion here with regard to metaphor.
In a sentence like:
"Sally is block of ice"
Where does semantics end and pragmatics begin? According to structuralist and generativist paradigms, ice
is marked for [-ANIMATE] and thus one cannot...
predicate 'be a block of ice' of an entity (Sally) which is [+animate]. The sentence is only acceptable to the extent that a listener can go beyond the literal meaning and construe the speaker's intended meaning. To perform this task, the listener needs to supplement linguistic competence with proficiency in pragmatics. Searle's account ... presupposes a distinction between semantics and pragmatics, the former having to do with literal, or purely linguistic meaning, the latter with the context-dependent construal of intended meaning. Over the past view decades, pragmatics has emerged as an important subdiscipline of linguistics, taking its place alongside the more traditional components of linguistic study, such as phonology, syntax, and semantics. Given the basic assumptions of the generative paradigm, the emergence of pragmatics as an independent object of study was perhaps inevitable. If language constitutes an autonomous cognitive system, then, given the self-evident fact that language is an instrument for conceptualizing and interacting with the world, the need arises for an interface that links theses otherwise independent systems. Pragmatics functions as precisely such an interface. In rejecting the notion of an autonomous linguistic faculty, cognitive linguistics necessarily removes the need for pragmatics as a separate branch of study. All meaning is, in a sense, pragmatic, as it involves the conceptualizations of human beings in a physical and social environment. The understanding of any utterance requires an act of context-sensitive interpretation by the listener/hearer (Bosch 1985); metaphorical utterances, on this view, do not form a special set.
Observe that Searle's account predicts that metaphorical interpretations should take longer to process than literal interpretations, since, in order to arrive at the metaphorical interpretation, a listener first needs to access the literal reading, subsequently to reject it as anomalous. This predication has not been born out (Gibbs 1994). This finding is not all that surprising, considering the conceptual problems associated with the Searlean view of metaphor as grammatical deviance, and the consequent need for the listen to ;correct; the utterance for its deviance. . . . First, the supposed deviance of metaphor implies that competent speakers of a language ought to be able to 'demetaphorize' expressions to full grammaticality. In practice, it is often difficult, if not impossible to replace a metaphorical expression by a non-metaphorical equivalent and still retain the sense of the original expression. Secondly, it is highly counter-intuitive to claim that anything as pervasive as metaphor should have to be account for in terms of rule-breaking: metaphor is 'such a familiar and ubiquitous ingredient of speech that [. . .] few stretches of everyday conversation would escape the presumption of censure' (Cooper 1986:78). Furthermore, the very pervasiveness of metaphor argues strongly against the deviance hypothesis; being endemic, metaphor would eventually destroy the norm againt which deviance is to be recognized. Finally, the question arises why any bona fide communicator should wish to do such a bizarre thing as intentionally to produce utterances which are grammatically deviant, only so that their conversational partner can mobilize all kinds of interpretive principles in order to arrive at the indented meaning. Why don't people say what they mean in the first place.
Pragmatics is only necessary as distinct from other expressions of meaning only when you treat language as an autonomous cognitive system.* Cognitive linguistics has no need for such a distinction. Pragmatics and semantics are merely two poles on a single continuum of meaning that functions in parallel to the continuum of grammar and lexicon.
*Sorry for moving into linguistic gobbledygook here. These terms involve an ongoing going debate in linguistics about the nature of language and its relationship with other systems of the brain (e.g. visual, tactile, etc.). Some hold that the cognitive system of language is 100% independent of all other aspects of the human brain (the generative paradigm). Others argue that this not the case and language, as a cognitive system is closely connected with the rest of the brain.