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Lecture 4

CMN 10Y Lecture 4: Language

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Page 4: Language Language Use Defined - a system of symbols that people use to transfer meaning among themselves - these symbols are agreed upon - strings of symbols or words allow for more complex meaning to be transferred - language is a collection of symbols, usually words, that have meaning - combinations of symbols have greater levels of meaning - Semantics: study of words and their meaning - Syntax: study of word order - Language vs language use - language is purely the collection of symbols and their meanings - language use is inherently social - it only exists on the context of people using symbols to transfer meaning - when you use language, you are intending to share some meaning with at least one other person - language use is an action Speech Acts - utterances that have a performative function in conversation - we do things with speech acts - ex. Thanking somebody, warn somebody - if one or more requirements are not met, the speech act is not truly performed - pragmatics: the study of how the context or social setting plays a role in the use and interpre- tation of language - ex. “you had to be there to get the joke” - as circumstances change, the exact same utterance will have assorted meanings Indirectness and Implicature - when an utterance is literal, the use and understanding of words occur in a very fundamental and basic way without added meaning from the context - ex. “Whats up?” - we use our pragmatic knowledge to intend and understand that “whats up?” is a pleasantry or greeting - Implicature - focuses on how people are able to transfer meaning that is greater than what they are liter- ally saying - speakers say indirect utterances because they know recipients will be able to realize the in- tent of the message rather than the literal meaning - from the recipients perspective, indirect utterances require pragmatics to infer the non-literal meaning of the message - an implicature is an inference that hearers make from an utterance to understand what the speaker intends - social context or setting are important for interpreting what othe
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