UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 13 (2001)

Natural Pragmatics and Natural Codes



Grice (1957) drew a famous distinction between natural(N) and non-natural(NN) meaning, where what is meant(NN) is broadly equivalent to what is intentionally communicated. This paper argues that Grice’s dichotomy overlooks the fact that spontaneously occurring natural signs may be intentionally shown, and hence used in intentional communication. It also argues that some naturally occurring behaviours have a signalling function, and that the existence of such natural codes provides further evidence that Grice’s original distinction was not exhaustive. The question of what kind of information, in cognitive terms, these signals encode is also examined.

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