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Semantic precision and (vs?) context / pragmatics / culture

From:Sai Emrys <sai@...>
Date:Monday, July 3, 2006, 23:57
To those of you who have "semantic precision" or some variant as a

How do you deal with the issue of context / pragmatics? Namely, it
seems to me to be inevitable that any finite piece of communication
must be underspecified, and rely at least partly on
a) linguistic context
b) social context (especially for social 'messages' that overlie it)
c) indexing rather than specifying the referent of any named object.

... at least. I'm sure the cognitivists in the audience can flesh this out more.

To clarify (c), what I mean is that no thing can be (AFAICT)
completely defined in a contextless manner. Inevitably at some point
it's just a reference to "that thing we both know that I'm pointing to
enough for you to recognize which thing I mean". (Again, philosophers
in the audience can chip in here about things like qualia,
inten(s/t)ionality, etc.)

Do you consider this a problem? Do you even agree with what I said above?

BTW, a related book on this topic - not mainly linguistic in nature
but very interesting and you'll see what I mean when you read it - is
Edward T. Hall, /The Dance of Life/.

 - Sai


And Rosta <and.rosta@...>
Sally Caves <scaves@...>