Publications

Accommodation in Linguistic Interaction. On the so-called triggering problem
Maciej Witek
November 22, 2017
Publication Status: Unpublished Draft

Accommodation is a process whereby the context of an utterance is adjusted or repaired in order to maintain the default assumption that the utterance constitutes an appropriate conversational move of a certain type. It involves, then, a kind of redressive action on the part of the audience and, depending on what the appropriateness of a speech act requires, results in providing missing contextual elements such as referents for anaphoric expressions, presuppositions, suppositions, deontic facts, pragmatically enriched contents, and so on. It remains to be determined, however, what is the source of the contextual requirements whose recognition motivates and guides the accommodating context-change. The aim of this paper is to address this question – which expresses the so-called triggering or constitution problem – and suggest that it can be adequately answered by a speech-act based model, the central idea of which is that the requirements in question are structural components of patterns, scripts or procedures for the performance of speech acts.

Keywords: accommodation, Austin, conventions, presuppositions, speech acts
Are Implicative Verbs Presupposition Triggers? Evidence from Polish
Mateusz Włodarczyk
May 4, 2017
Publication Status: Forthcoming
Bibliographical info: In: M. Witek, I. Witczak-Plisiecka (eds.), Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities: Varieties and Dynamics of Speech Actions.

In this paper we present results of the experiment on reinforceability of conversational implicatures and presuppositions. Within–subject analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used for statistical analysis. Four different presupposition triggers were used in the experiment: factive verbs, implicative verbs, change of state verbs and temporal clauses. Mean score of 3,31 on the redundancy scale for sentences with reinforced indirect messages linked with implicative verbs suggest that in contrast to presuppositions carried by other triggers, those indirectmessages (or assumptions) can be reinforced without producing a sense of anomalous redundancy. We argue that the results can be explained using the notion of accommodation and that assumptions linked to implicative verbs could be treated as default meanings rather than presuppositions.

Keywords: accommodation, experimental pragmatics, presuppositions
Accommodation and Convention
Maciej Witek
May 4, 2017
Publication Status: Published
Bibliographical info: Polish Journal of Philosophy 10(1), 2016, 99-115. DOI 10.5840/pjphil20161016

The paper develops a non-Gricean account of accommodation: a context-adjusting process guided by the assumption that the speaker’s utterance constitutes an appropriate conversational move. The paper is organized into three parts. The first one reconstructs the basic tenets of Lepore and Stone's non-Gricean model of meaning-making, which results from integrating direct intentionalism and extended semantics. The second part discusses the phenomenon of accommodation as it occurs in conversational practice. The third part uses the tenets of the non-Gricean model of meaning-making to account for the discursive mechanisms underlying accommodation; the proposed account relies on a distinction between the rules of appropriateness, which form part of extended grammar, and the Maxim of Appropriateness, which functions as a discursive norm guiding our conversational practice.

Keywords: accommodation, conventions, presuppositions
Expressing the Self: From Types of De Se to Speech Act Types
Kasia M. Jaszczolt and Maciej Witek
May 4, 2017
Publication Status: Forthcoming
Bibliographical info: In: M. Huang and K.M. Jaszczolt (eds.), Expressing the Self: Cultural Diversity and Cognitive Universals, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The authors discuss the cognitive significance of the devices used to communicate de se thoughts and argue (and also partially empirically demonstrate) that, pace some extant proposals and pace the dominant presumption in semantics and philosophy of language, there is no evidence that natural languages use different kinds of expressions for externalising different aspects of self-reference. On the basis of their empirical results from Polish, as well as evidence from a range of other languages and some theoretical argumentation, they sketch a possible future model founded on a correlation between speech-act types, interlocutors’ goals, discourse-constituted aspects of the self, and associated linguistic conventions on the one hand, and an expression type on the other.

Keywords: experimental pragmatics, expressing the self, speech acts
Three Approaches to the Study of Speech Acts
Maciej Witek
March 14, 2017
Publication Status: Published
Bibliographical info:
  • Dialogue and Universalism 23 (1), 2013, 129-142. DOI: 10.5840/du201323125

The paper reconstructs and discusses three different approaches to the study of speech acts: (i) the intentionalist approach, according to which most illocutionary acts are to be analysed as utterances made with the Gricean communicative intentions, (ii) the institutionalist approach, which is based on the idea of illocutions as institutional acts constituted by systems of collectively accepted rules, and (iii) the interactionalist approach the main tenet of which is to perform illocutionary acts by making conventional moves in accordance with patterns of social interaction. It is claimed that, first, each of the discussed approaches presupposes a different account of the nature and structure of illocutionary acts, and, second, all those approaches result from one-sided interpretations of Austin’s conception of verbal action. The first part of the paper reconstructs Austin's views on the functions and effects of felicitous illocutionary acts. The second part reconstructs and considers three different research developments in the post-Austinian speech act theory—the intentionalist approach, the institutionalist approach, and the interactionalist approach.

Keywords: Austin, conventions, Grice, speech acts
Non-Inferential Aspects of Ad Hominem and Ad Baculum
Katarzyna Budzynska, Maciej Witek
March 14, 2017
Publication Status: Published
Bibliographical info: Argumentation 28, 2014, 301-315. DOI 10.1007/s10503-014-9322-6

The aim of the paper is to explore the interrelation between persuasion tactics and properties of speech acts. We investigate two types of arguments ad: ad hominem and ad baculum. We show that with both of these tactics, the structures that play a key role are not inferential, but rather ethotic, i.e., related to the speaker’s character and trust. We use the concepts of illocutionary force and constitutive conditions related to the character or status of the speaker in order to explain the dynamics of these two techniques. In keeping with the research focus of the Polish School of Argumentation, we examine how the pragmatic and rhetorical aspects of the force of ad hominem and ad baculum arguments exploit trust in the speaker’s status to influence the audience’s cognition.

Keywords: Austin, conventions, speech acts
An interactional account of illocutionary practice
Maciej Witek
March 14, 2017
  • Discipline: Pragmatics
Publication Status: Published
Bibliographical info: Language Sciences 47, 2015, 43-55. DOI 10.1016/j.langsci.2014.08.003

The paper aims to develop an interactional account of illocutionary practice, which results from integrating elements of Millikan's biological model of language within the framework of Austin's theory of speech acts. The proposed account rests on the assumption that the force of an act depends on what counts as its interactional effect or, in other words, on the response that it conventionally invites or attempts to elicit. The discussion is divided into two parts. The first one reconsiders Austin's and Millikan's contributions to the study of linguistic practice. The second part presents the main tenets of the interactional account. In particular, it draws a distinction between primary and secondary conventional patterns of interaction and argues that they make up coherent systems representing different language games or activity types; it is also argued that the proposed account is not subject to the massive ambiguity problem.

Keywords: Austin, conventions, speech acts
Linguistic underdeterminacy: A view from speech act theory
Maciej Witek
March 14, 2017
  • Discipline: Pragmatics
Publication Status: Published
Bibliographical info: Journal of Pragmatics 76, 2015, 15-29. DOI 10.1016/j.pragma.2014.11.003

The aim of this paper is to reformulate the Linguistic Underdeterminacy Thesis by making use of Austin's theory of speech acts. Viewed from the post-Gricean perspective, linguistic underdeterminacy consists in there being a gap between the encoded meaning of a sentence uttered by a speaker and the proposition that she communicates. According to the Austinian model offered in this paper, linguistic underdeterminacy should be analysed in terms of semantic and force potentials conventionally associated with the lexical and syntactic properties of the pheme uttered by the speaker; in short, it is claimed that the conventionally specified phatic meaning of an utterance underdetermines its content and force. This Austinian version of the Linguistic Underdeterminacy Thesis plays a central role in a contextualist model of verbal communication. The model is eliminativist with respect to rhetic content and illocutionary force: it takes contents and forces to be one-off constructions whose function is to classify individual utterances in terms of their representational and institutional effects, respectively.

Keywords: Austin, linguistic underdeterminacy, speech acts
Mechanisms of Illocutionary Games
Maciej Witek
March 14, 2017
Publication Status: Published
Bibliographical info: Language and Communication 42, 2015, 11-22. DOI 10.1016/j.langcom.2015.01.007

The paper develops a score-keeping model of illocutionary games and uses it to account for mechanisms responsible for creating institutional facts construed as rights and commitments of participants in a dialogue. After introducing the idea of Austinian games—understood as abstract entities representing different levels of the functioning of discourse—the paper defines the main categories of the proposed model: interactional negotiation, illocutionary score, appropriateness rules and kinematics rules. Finally, it discusses the phenomenon of accommodation as it occurs in illocutionary games and argues that the proposed model presupposes an externalist account of illocutionary practice.

Keywords: accommodation, Austin, conventions, speech acts
How to establish authority with words: imperative utterances and presupposition accommodation
Maciej Witek
March 10, 2017
Publication Status: Published
Bibliographical info: A. Brożek, J. Jadacki & B. Žarnic (ed.), Theory of Imperatives from Different Points of View (2), Warszawa 2013 (Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science at Warsaw University, Vol. 7), 145-157.

The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it aims at providing an account of an indirect mechanism responsible for establishing one's power to issue binding directive acts; second, it is intended as a case for an externalist account of illocutionary interaction. The mechanism in question is akin to what David Lewis calls "presupposition accommodation": a rule-governed process whereby the context of an utterance is adjusted to make the utterance acceptable; the main idea behind the proposed account is that the indirect power establishing mechanism involves the use of imperative sentences that function as presupposition triggers and as such can trigger off the accommodating change of the context of their utterance. According to the externalist account of illocutionary interaction, in turn, at least in some cases the illocutionary force of an act is determined by the audience's uptake rattier than by what the speaker intends or believes; in particular, at least in some cases it is the speaker, not her audience, who is invited to accommodate the presupposition of her act. The paper has three parts. The first one defines a few terms — i.e., an "illocution", a "binding act", the "audience's uptake" and an "Austinian presupposition" — thereby setting the stage for the subsequent discussion. The second part formulates and discusses the main problem of the present paper: what is the source of the agent's power to perform binding directive acts? The third part offers an account of the indirect power-establishing mechanism and discusses its externalist implications.

Keywords: accommodation, Austin, presuppositions, speech acts