When an utterance is produced, the discourse models of utterer and addressee may undergo multiple updates, some of which will yield a new Common Ground: “Utterer has said that p”, “Utterer believes that p”, “p is true”. This potential multiplicity of updates has always been taken for granted in pragmatics and philosophy of language, but it has never - to my knowledge - been exploited to illuminate our understanding of human communication. I propose an articulation of the common ground in which several updates are simultaneously represented when an utterance is pronounced. I show that this articulated Common Ground sheds light on two topics in philosophy of language. The first one is the definition of Assertion, probably the most controversial type of speech act (I will present results recently published). The second one is the place of metaphor in a model of linguistic communication (and this is work in progress).
About the Presenter
I am a Professor of Spanish Linguistics in the Department of Spanish and Italian Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago. My one and only research question over the years has been: What is the nature of the human language faculty? For the past few years my scholarship has focused on pragmatics, which has provided me with the excuse to read fascinating stuff in philosophy of language and philosophy of law. I have published or have in the pipeline papers on assertion as well as lies and perjury. Before that, I published extensively on syntactic theory, morphology, and their interfaces with semantics, information structure, and phonology. Within this general framework, I also worked on bilingualism and the rich database that can be found when exploring code-switching.