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The dark matter of pragmatics: Known unknowns


Levinson,  Stephen C.
Emeriti, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Levinson, S. C. (2024). The dark matter of pragmatics: Known unknowns. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781009489584.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000E-0144-4
This Element tries to discern the known unknowns in the field
of pragmatics, the ‘Dark Matter’ of the title. We can identify a key
bottleneck in human communication, the sheer limitation on the speed
of speech encoding: pragmatics occupies the niche nestled between
slow speech encoding and fast comprehension. Pragmatic strategies
are tricks for evading this tight encoding bottleneck by meaning more
than you say. Five such tricks are reviewed, which are all domains where
we have made considerable progress. We can then ask for each of these
areas, where have we neglected to push the frontier forward? These are
the known unknowns of pragmatics, key areas, and topics for future
research. The Element thus offers a brief review of some central areas of
pragmatics, and a survey of targets for future research.