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Insights into Metarepresentation : Evidence from English and French

le 13 fvrier 2015

(Universités Genève & Caen)


The massively distributed nature of human cognition constitutes one of the central challenges of contemporary science, with linguistic communication as a foundational case. Communication crucially rests on the hearer’s ability to infer the speaker’s intended meaning based on the interaction of particular stimuli and context (Grice 1989, Levinson 2000, Sperber & Wilson 1995 i.a.). The inferential nature of communication draws on the ability to attribute underlying beliefs, intentions and desires to others, known as metarepresentation (Recanati 2000, Sperber 2000). Metarepresentation epitomises the humans’ ability to engage in deep cognitive coordination with others by which convergence is brought to the variety of stimuli involved in linguistic interpretation. The issue of metarepresentation allows a deeper understanding of grammatical dimensions such as interrogatives, point-of-view adverbs, focus, conditional clauses, negation, imperfective aspect, across languages and through linguistic change. Two types of question arise however with metarepresentation whether related to an enunciative source or not : What is the actual psychological reality of metarepresentations, and how are they constrained by the mind/brain substrate ? What are the concrete linguistic and communicative cues to identifying metarepresentational readings ? While much has been said about the potential indicators of jocularity, irony and reported speech, relatively little is known about their actual presence in real usage, and their interaction with precise prosodic and gestural dimensions. Furthermore, it is difficult to determine to what extent these indicators are stable across languages. The answer to these questions will contribute to a better understanding of the relation between meta-cognitive and meta-communicative abilities involved in the comprehension process, as well as of the relation between descriptive use and metarepresentation in various contexts. The whole community is invited to attend the seminar dedicated to metarepresentation. Each presentation will be followed by a significant discussion session where everyone is invited to raise constructive interventions. The seminar’s condition of satisfaction is to bring greater consensus about definitions, criteria, and psychological reality of metarepresentation. The seminar will be bilingual. Questions can be asked in English and in French.

Organisers :

Elena Albu (elena_albu84 AT yahoo DOT com) and Pierre Larrivée (Pierre.Larrivee AT Unicaen DOT fr)

Programme :

13h.30-14h.30 – J. Moeschler (Université de Genève) : Qu’y a-t-il de métareprésentationnel dans la négation métalinguistique ?

14h.30-15h.30 – Ph. Schlenker (Institut Jean-Nicod, CNRS ; Université de New York) : Logique et iconicité en langue des signes

15h.30-16h – pause café

16h-17h – A. Morgenstern (Paris Sorbonne Nouvelle) : Signes linguistiques et non linguistiques dans les interactions adulte-enfant

17h-17h30 : discussion finale

room B (-1) FMSH, 190 Avenue de France, 75013



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Dernière modification : 25 mars 2019

Moeschler.pdf (13,5 Ko)
Schlenker.pdf (51 Ko)
Morgenstern.pdf (105Ko)

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