Intentions and Conventions in Linguistic Communication

Intentions and conventions in linguistic communication.

A non-Gricean programme in the philosophy of language and cognitive science

Research grant No. 2015/19/B/HS1/03306 founded by the National Science Centre, Poland.

Investigator: Maciej Witek , Co-investigators: Mateusz Włodarczyk, Maja Kasjanowicz, Sara Kwiecień, Janina Mękarska

In 2020, Maciej Witek received the West Pomeranian Noble Award 2019 (Zachodniopomorski Nobel 2019) for his publications on the normative aspect of linguistic interaction, some of which presented the result of this project

In this project, we examine the adequacy of the Gricean programme in the philosophy of language and cognitive science and, next, develop an alternative, Austinian framework based on the idea that using language is a social practice that consists of performing conventional speech acts: acts done conforming to a convention. After a critical discussion of the Gricean approach, we elaborate on the Austinian ideas to be found in the philosophical literature and use them to account for (i) the variety and constitution of linguistic meaning, (ii) the structure and content of communicative acts, (iii) the mechanisms and cognitive underpinnings of verbal communication, and (iv) the evolutionary and developmental emergence of linguistic and communicative skills. We use the Austinian framework to account for a number of discursive phenomena such as accommodation, presuppositions, irony, presumptions, demonstrative reference, as well as for the evolutionary emergence of illocutionary interaction.

Project-related publications:

Jaszczolt, K.M., Witek, M., Expressing the Self: From types of de se to speech-act types, In: M. Huang and K.M. Jaszczolt (Eds.), Expressing the Self: Cultural Diversity and Cognitive Universals, pp. 187-221, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2018.

Kasjanowicz, M., Standard and Non-standard Suppositions and Presuppositions, Axiomathes, 2021,

Mekarska, J., Witek, M., Echo i udawanie w ironii komunikacyjnej, Studia Semiotyczne 23(2), 2019, 369-394. English version: Mekarska, J., Witek, M., Echo and pretence in communicative irony, Studia Semiotyczne. English Supplement 31, 2020, 149-177.

Witek, M., Accommodation and Convention, Polish Journal of Philosophy 10(1), 2016, 99-115.

Witek, M., Accommodation in Linguistic Interaction. On the so-called triggering problem, In: P. Stalmaszczyk (Ed.), Pragmatics and Beyond. Philosophical Insights into Pragmatics, pp. 163-192, Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter 2019.

Witek, M., An Austinian alternative to the Gricean perspective on meaning and communication, Journal of Pragmatics 201, 2022, 60-75.

Witek, M., Illocution and Accommodation in the Functioning of Presumptions, Synthese 198, 2021, 6207-6244.

Witek, M., Irony as a Speech Action, Journal of Pragmatics 190, March 2022, 76-90.

Witek, M., Kwiecień, S., Włodarczyk, M., Wrzosek, M., Bondek, J., Prosody and specificity-bias in recognizing dialogue-specific functions of speech acts. Evidence from Polish, Language Sciences 93, 2022, 101499.

Witek, M., Self-expression in speech acts, Organon F 28(2), 2021, 326-359.

Witek, M., The expressive dimension and score-changing function of speech acts from the evolutionist point of view, Grazer Philosophische Studien 96(3), 2019, 381-398.

Witek, M.Intention and responsibility in demonstrative reference. A view from the theory of speech acts, Studia Semiotyczne 36(2), 2022, 63-84.

Witek, M., Interactional negotiation, In: L. Caponetto and P. Labinaz (Eds.), Sbisà on Speech as Action, London: Palgrave Macmillan (in press).

Włodarczyk, M., Limitations of non-Gricean approaches to the evolution of human communicative abilities”, Organon F 28(2), 2021, 360-398.

Włodarczyk, M., Processing presuppositions. Are implicative verbs soft triggers?, Research in Language 19(1), 2021, 47-75.

Project-related conference papers and seminar presentations: