The (drafts of) published texts I have authored or co-authored are listed on this page and can be accessed by following the links (either text in blue, or underlined URLs).
U-Pragmatics and E-Pragmatics: making a case for I-Pragmatics
Nasledje, Vol. XII, Issue 32. pp. 11-35.
This article presents an argument which shows that there is a natural point of contact between the social-descriptive and the cognitive-psychological relevance-theoretic approaches to communication. The argument is based on an analogy between the concepts of Universal Grammar, E-Language and I-Language, developed within generative linguistics, and the relevance-theoretic model of the cognitive mechanisms and psychological processes of human communication and cognition. I make a case for identifying and investigating culture-specific pragmatic competence in cognitive, relevance-theoretic terms and I try to show how this proposal provides a principled basis for a cognitive psychological concept of pragmatic competence which could be termed I-Pragmatics and which is the natural point of contact between the universal mechanisms of communication and other cognitive domains, including the social ability module.
Communication and core conditions in rapport building: a case study.
Žegarac, V., Caley, J. and Bhatty, J.
In: International Review of Pragmatics 7 216-243
The main aim of this article is to show how difficulties in communication across cultural boundaries can be addressed effectively by taking account of the complex interplay between individual, culture-specific and universal aspects of social interaction. The article considers an unconventional, creative and effective approach to dealing with a critical incident situation that arose in an intercultural EFL classroom. The description and analysis of the problem situation draw on Carl Rogers’ (see Kirschenbaum and Henderson, 1989) core conditions for facilitative educational practice and the key concepts of Relevance-theoretic pragmatics (Sperber and Wilson, 1986, 1995), showing how the mechanisms of communication can be used in building positive rapport _between the interactants as whole integrated individuals.
Conceptualizing mindfulness–mindlessness in intercultural interaction.
Žegarac, V., Spencer-Oatey, H. and Ushioda, E.
In: International Journal of Language and Culture. 1:1. 75–97.
The concept of ‘mindfulness’ is increasingly used in the intercultural literature and yet so far it is largely just a heterogeneous construct with underspecified
theoretical content. In this paper we draw on multidisciplinary perspectives to address this shortcoming and develop an integrated analysis of this important
construct. We relate ‘mindfulness’ explicitly to the Relevance-theoretic concept of “manifestness”, and we incorporate insights from the psychology of motivation.
We use extracts of authentic intercultural interactions to help explain and illustrate our arguments.
Achieving Mutual Understanding in Intercultural Project Partnerships: Co-operation, self-orientation and fragility.
Žegarac, V. and Spencer-Oatey, H.
In: Intercultural Pragmatics. 10 : 3. pp. 433-458.
Communication depends on co-operation in at least the following way: in order to be successful, communicative behaviour needs to be adjusted to the general world knowledge, abilities and interests of the hearer, and the hearer’s success in figuring out the message and responding to it needs to be informed by assumptions about the communicator’s informative intentions, personal goals and communicative abilities. In other words, interlocutors co-operate by co-ordinating their actions in order to fulfil their communicative intentions. This minimal assumption about cooperativeness must in one way or another be built into the foundations of any plausible inferential model of human communication. However, the communication process is also influenced to a greater or lesser extent, whether intentionally and consciously or unintentionally and unconsciously, by the participants’ orientation towards, or preoccupation with, their own concerns, so their behaviour may easily fall short of being as co-operative as is required for achieving successful communication. In this paper, we consider in some detail a critical incident from a meeting which took place at the beginning of an intercultural project partnership and we argue that such communication situations are ‘fragile’ in that they can put pressure on the participants to be more self-oriented (i.e. self-centred) and, therefore, less co-operative. We explore the reasons for this and propose that affective factors including face play a key role. We end by considering the theoretical implications of our study for future research.
Compliments and refusals in England and Poland.
Bhatti J. and Žegarac, V.
In: Research in Language. 10 :3. pp. 279–297.
There are significant cross-cultural differences in the way compliments and refusals are made and responded to. The investigation of these speech acts touches on some interesting issues for pragmatic theory: the relation between the universal and the culturespecific features of complimenting and refusing, the importance of culture specific strategies in explaining how these speech acts are produced and responded to, as well as the relation between the message conveyed by a compliment or refusal and its affective/emotional effects on the hearer. The pilot study presented in this paper investigates the production and reception of compliments and refusals in the relatively proximate cultures of England and Poland. The findings reveal significant systematic cross-cultural differences relating to refusals, while the differences relating to compliments are fewer and more subtle. The data suggests that the cross-cultural similarities and differences observed can be explained in terms of (a) a universalist view of institutional speech acts and face concerns in rapport management, (b) the Relevancetheoretic view of communication and cognition as oriented towards maximising informativeness and (c) some culture-specific values. These tentative conclusions are based on very limited data and indicate useful directions for future research.
Review of Roy Harris (2009), Rationality and the Literate Mind New York: Routledge.
pp.190 ISBN10: 0-415-99901-4.
In Writing & Pedagogy, Vol 3, No 1.
Article published in the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Pragmatics. Edited by Louise Cummings. London: Routledge.
Review of Dimitra Koutsantoni (2007) Developing Academic Literacies: Understanding
Disciplinary Communities’ Culture and Rhetoric. Vol. 4, Contemporary Studies in
Descriptive Linguistics. Oxford: Peter Lang. pp. 302 ISBN: 9783039105755.
In Writing & Pedagogy, Vol 1, No2
Unpublished text: Metadiscourse markers in IELTS texts and in textbooks for undergraduate students.
Culture and cmmunication.
In: Culturally Speaking: Managing Rapport across Cultures. [2nd edition] Helen Spencer-Oatey (ed.). London: Continuum.
This text introduces (at a fairly elementary level) some basic features of culture and communication and provides a brief outline of the interplay of cognitive and environmental factors in explaining cultural variation. I consider the implications of an analogy between cultures and epidemics for culture research and describe and illustrate the importance of two features of human cognition for explaining culture and communication: our capacity to form representations of representations(technically, the capacity to form metarepresentations) and our tendency to seek novel information which seems worth having (technically, the orientation of human cognition and communication towards relevant information). A cognitive pragmatic perspective on communication and culture.
A cognitive pragmatic perspective on communication and culture.
In: Handbooks of Applied Linguistics Vol. 7:Intercultural Communication. Volume editors: Helga Kotthoff and Helen Spencer-Oatey. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
The main aim of this article is to provide an introductory cognitive-psychological account of communication in the context of culture. I argue that a plausible account of inter-cultural communication should provide an explicit characterization of cultural knowledge and a reasoned account of the way cultural knowledge is used in communication (as part of the context). I try to show that the theoretical backbone of Sperber’s epidemiological approach to culture and Sperber and Wilson’s (1986/95) Relevance-theoretic approach to communication provides a plausible approach to these issues.
Believing in: a pragmatic account.
In: Lingua 116 pp. 1703-1721.
The gap between the linguistic meaning of an utterance and the content of the proposition it expresses in a particular context is bridged by an inference process with free access to general world knowledge. Therefore, pragmatic theory should be able to characterize the inputs to this inference process in a way which provides the basis for explaining why a particular linguistic expression has some contextual interpretations to the exclusion of others. The main aim of this paper is to consider how Relevance Theory rises to this challenge. The article focuses on the typical interpretations of utterances with believe (in) NP. I try to show how various interpretations of this expression follow from the interaction between its linguistic meaning, the Principle of Relevance, the context, and two general cognitive tendencies in context selection: the orientation towards positive outcomes and the orientation towards cause-effect relations.
Four conceptions of language.
In: Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics(2nd edition) vol.6 pp.340-344 Amsterdam: Elsevier
(edited by Keith Brown)
Relevance Theory and ‘the’ in second language acquisition.
In: Second Language Research Vol.20 Number: 3 pp. 193-211.
This article considers the implications of Relevance Theory for the acquisition of the English definite article the by second language (L2) learners whose first language (L1) does not have an article system. Relevance-theoretic assumptions about human communication, together with some effects of transfer from L1 provide the basis for a number of predictions about the types of L2 learners’ errors in the use of 'the'. I argue that data from previous research lend support to these predictions.
Ideology and ostensive-inferential communication.
International Journal of Pragmatics Vol.14, pp.155-171. (Special issue on Neo-Gricean pragmatics edited by Ken Turner)
The mechanisms of human communication and cognition, whose proper function is to bring about improvements in the belief systems of individuals, are firmly grounded in rationality. Despite this, they play an important role in the spreading of irrational ideological beliefs. Hence, a pragmatic theory which explains how successful (rational) communication is achieved, should also have something to say about the way irrational beliefs are conveyed. In this paper I try to bring together some concepts of Relevance-theoretic pragmatics in a way which brings us closer to an understanding of the relation between ostensive-inferential communication and ideological manipulation through the dissemination of irrational beliefs by the press.
2002/2010 [2nd edition]
Spemcer-Oatey, H. and Žegarac, V.
In: Norbert Schmidt (ed.) An Introduction to Applied Linguistics. Chapter 5, Lomdon: Hodder Education. pp. 74-91.
Draft of a chapter which aims to provide a taster to the field of pragmatics.
Pragmatic transfer in intercultural communication.
Žegarac, V. and Pennignton, M, C,
In: Helen Spencer-Oatey (ed.) Culturally Speaking: Managing Rapport through Talk across Cultures. London: Cassell. pp. 169-190.
Pragmatic transfer has both a social aspect and a cognitive aspect. It is a cognitive phenomenon by definition, because it concerns some aspects of human knowledge, but it must also be studied descriptively from a social point of view, because the observation and analysis of communicative behaviour (whether based on naturally occurring or experimentally elicited data) presents by far the most important source of evidence for pragmatic transfer. In particular, the discussion of the fourth question (‘How can pragmatic transfer be explained theoretically?’) explores the possibility of reconciling and combining the insights from social pragmatics (especially Brown and Levinson's (1987) work on face) with the cognitive approach of Sperber and Wilson's (1986/95) relevance theory.
Phatic interpretations and phatic communication.
Žegarac, V. and Clark, B.
In: Journal of Linguistics Vol.35, pp. 321-346. (written jointly with Dr Billy Clark)
This paper considers how the notion of phatic communication can best be understood within the framework of Relevance Theory. To a large extent, we are exploring a terminological question: which things which occur during acts of verbal communication should the term ‘phatic’ apply to? The term is perhaps most frequently used in the phrase ‘phatic communion’, which has been thought of as an essentially social phenomenon and therefore beyond the scope of cognitive pragmatic theories. We suggest, instead, that the term ‘pahtic’ should be applied to interpretations and that an adequate account of phatic interpretations requires an account of the cognitive processes involved in deriving them. Relevance Theory provides the basis for such an account. In section 1, we indicate the range of phenomena to be explored. In section 2, we outline the parts of Relevance Theory which are used in our account. In section 3, we argue that the term ‘phatic’ should be applied to interpretations, and we explore predictions about phatic interpretations which follow from the framework of Relevance Theory, including the claim that phatic interpretations should be derived only when non-phatic interpretations are not consistent with the Principle of Relevance. In section 4 we consider cases where cognitive effects similar to those caused by phatic interpretations are conveyed but not ostensively communicated.
A reply to Ward and Horn.
Žegarac, V. and Clark, B.
In: Journal of Linguistics Vol.35, pp. 565-577.
This paper is a reply to Ward and Horn’s (1999) criticisms of the Relevance-theoretic account of phatic communication proposed in Žegarac and Clark (1999).
What is phatic communication?
In: Villy Rouchota and Andreas Jucker (eds.)Current Issues in Relevance Theory. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp. 327-361.
This article presents a relevance-theoretic analysis of the way utterances are interpreted in phatic exchanges. I consider phatic communication as a special case of ostensive-inferential communication, and I argue that what makes it special is the inference route which the hearer follows in interpreting the utterance, rather than the cognitive mechanisms involved.
Some observations on the pragmatics of the progressive.
In: Lingua Vol.90, 201- 220
The overtones of reproof in (1),insincerity in (2) and limited duration in (3), which are systematically associated with the progressive aspect, have been much discussed, but they have not been successfully explained:
(1) Old Lily is always feeding the pigeons.
(2) John is being polite.
(3) John is living in Muswell Hill.
In this article, I consider several characterisations of the linguistic meaning of the progressive, and I argue that this construction linguistically encodesreference to a non-delimited event instantiating the property denoted hi the predicate. I then proceed to show how this fairly austere semantics of the progressive provides the basis for a plausible pragmatic account of the overtones exemplified by (1) to (3).
Pragmatics and verbal aspect.
In: UCL Working Papers in Linguistics Vol.2, pp. 113-143.
Relevance theory and the meaning of the English progressive.
in: UCL Working Papers in Linguistics Vol.1, pp. 19-30.
Review of Katicic 1987: Sintaksa Savremenog Hrvatskog Knjizevnog Jezika.
In: Slavonic and East European Review.