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  1. Provincialism in Pragmatics.Josh Armstrong - 2018 - Philosophical Perspectives 32 (1):5-40.
    The central claim of my paper is that pragmatics has a wider scope of application than has been generally appreciated. In particular, I will argue that many discussions of pragmatics are guilty of a problematic form of provincialism. The provincialism at issue restricts the class of target systems of study to those involving groups of developmentally typical humans (or slightly idealized versions thereof), either explicitly as a matter of principle or implicitly as consequence of how it construes the underlying pragmatic (...)
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  • How to do things with nonwords: pragmatics, biosemantics, and origins of language in animal communication.Dorit Bar-On - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (6):1-25.
    Recent discussions of animal communication and the evolution of language have advocated adopting a ‘pragmatics-first’ approach, according to which “a more productive framework” for primate communication research should be “pragmatics, the field of linguistics that examines the role of context in shaping the meaning of linguistic utterances”. After distinguishing two different conceptions of pragmatics that advocates of the pragmatics-first approach have implicitly relied on, I argue that neither conception adequately serves the purposes of pragmatics-first approaches to the origins of human (...)
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  • How Grammar Introduces Asymmetry Into Cognitive Structures: Compositional Semantics, Metaphors, and Schematological Hybrids.David Gil & Yeshayahu Shen - 2019 - Frontiers in Psychology 10.
    This paper presents a preliminary and tentative formulation of a novel empirical generalization governing the relationship between grammar and cognition across a variety of independent domains. Its point of departure is an abstract distinction between two kinds of cognitive structures: symmetric and asymmetric. While in principle any feature whatsoever has the potential for introducing asymmetry, this paper focuses on one specific feature, namely thematic-role assignment. Our main empirical finding concerns the role of language, or, more specifically, grammar, in effecting and (...)
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  • Beyond Anthropocentrism in Comparative Cognition: Recentering Animal Linguistics.Philippe Schlenker, Camille Coye, Shane Steinert-Threlkeld, Nathan Klinedinst & Emmanuel Chemla - 2022 - Cognitive Science 46 (12):e13220.
  • Toward the Emergence of Nontrivial Compositionality.Shane Steinert-Threlkeld - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (5):897-909.
    All natural languages exhibit a distinction between content words and function words. Yet surprisingly little has been said about the e...
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  • Referential and general calls in primate semantics.Shane Steinert-Threlkeld, Philippe Schlenker & Emmanuel Chemla - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (6):1317-1342.
    In recent years, the methods of formal semantics and pragmatics have been fruitfully applied to the analysis of primate communication systems. Most analyses therein appeal to a division of labor between semantics and pragmatics which has the following three features: calls are given referential meanings, some calls have a general meaning, and the meanings of calls in context are enriched by competition with more informative calls, along the lines of scalar implicatures. In this paper, we develop highly simplified models to (...)
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  • Compositional Signaling in a Complex World.Shane Steinert-Threlkeld - 2016 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 25 (3-4):379-397.
    Natural languages are compositional in that the meaning of complex expressions depends on those of the parts and how they are put together. Here, I ask the following question: why are languages compositional? I answer this question by extending Lewis–Skyrms signaling games with a rudimentary form of compositional signaling and exploring simple reinforcement learning therein. As it turns out: in complex worlds, having compositional signaling helps simple agents learn to communicate. I am also able to show that learning the meaning (...)
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  • What is Super Semantics?Philippe Schlenker - 2018 - Philosophical Perspectives 32 (1):365-453.
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  • Semiotic systems with duality of patterning and the issue of cultural replicators.Gerhard Schaden & Cédric Patin - 2017 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (1):4.
    Two major works in recent evolutionary biology have in different ways touched upon the issue of cultural replicators in language, namely Dawkins’ Selfish Gene and Maynard Smith and Szathmáry’s Major Transitions in Evolution. In the latter, the emergence of language is referred to as the last major transition in evolution, a claim we argue to be derived from a crucial property of language, called Duality of Patterning. Prima facie, this property makes natural language look like a structural equivalent to DNA, (...)
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  • Why language really is not a communication system: a cognitive view of language evolution.Anne C. Reboul - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
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  • The Evolution of Primate Communication and Metacommunication.Joëlle Proust - 2016 - Mind and Language 31 (2):177-203.
    Against the prior view that primate communication is based only on signal decoding, comparative evidence suggests that primates are able, no less than humans, to intentionally perform or understand impulsive or habitual communicational actions with a structured evaluative nonconceptual content. These signals convey an affordance-sensing that immediately motivates conspecifics to act. Although humans have access to a strategic form of propositional communication adapted to teaching and persuasion, they share with nonhuman primates the capacity to communicate in impulsive or habitual ways. (...)
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  • Construction grammar for monkeys?Michael Pleyer & Stefan Hartmann - 2020 - Evolutionary Linguistic Theory 2 (2):153-194.
    In recent years, multiple researchers working on the evolution of language have put forward the idea that the theoretical framework of usage-based approaches and Construction Grammar is highly suitable for modelling the emergence of human language from pre-linguistic or proto-linguistic communication systems. This also raises the question of whether usage-based and constructionist approaches can be integrated with the analysis of animal communication systems. In this paper, we review possible avenues where usage-based, constructionist approaches can make contact with animal communication research, (...)
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  • The precedence of syntax in the rapid emergence of human language in evolution as defined by the integration hypothesis.Vitor A. Nã³Brega & Shigeru Miyagawa - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
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  • Labels, cognomes, and cyclic computation: an ethological perspective.Elliot Murphy - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
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  • Complex Inferential Processes Are Needed for Implicature Comprehension, but Not for Implicature Production.Irene Mognon, Simone A. Sprenger, Sanne J. M. Kuijper & Petra Hendriks - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
    Upon hearing “Some of Michelangelo’s sculptures are in Rome,” adults can easily generate a scalar implicature and infer that the intended meaning of the utterance corresponds to “Some but not all Michelangelo’s sculptures are in Rome.” Comprehension experiments show that preschoolers struggle with this kind of inference until at least 5 years of age. Surprisingly, the few studies having investigated children’s production of scalar expressions like some and all suggest that production is adult-like already in their third year of life. (...)
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  • Competition and Symmetry in an Artificial Word Learning Task.Brian Buccola, Isabelle Dautriche & Emmanuel Chemla - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
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  • Sociality, Expression, and This Thing called Language.Dorit Bar-On - 2016 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (1):56-79.
    Davidson’s well-known language skepticism—the claim that there is no such a thing as a language—has recognizably Gricean underpinnings, some of which also underlie his continuity skepticism—the claim that there can be no philosophically illuminating account of the emergence of language and thought. My first aim in this paper is to highlight aspects of the complicated relationship between central Davidsonian and Gricean ideas concerning language. After a brief review of Davidson’s two skeptical claims and their Gricean underpinnings, I provide my own (...)
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  • Overlooked evidence for semantic compositionality and signal reduction in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).Petar Gabrić - forthcoming - Animal Cognition.
    Recent discoveries of semantic compositionality in Japanese tits have enlivened the discussions on the presence of this phenomenon in wild animal communication. Data on semantic compositionality in wild apes are lacking, even though language experiments with captive apes have demonstrated they are capable of semantic compositionality. In this paper, I revisit the study by Boesch (Hum. Evol. 6:81–89, 1991) who investigated drumming sequences by an alpha male in a chimpanzee (_Pan troglodytes_) community in the Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire. A (...)
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  • Function Words and Context Variability.Shane Steinert-Threlkeld - unknown
    Natural language expressions fall into two categories: content and function words. While function words are essential to compositional semantics, surprisingly little has been said about their emergence. In this paper, I will show that most extant approaches to the emergence of compositional signaling fail to account for the emergence of functional vocabulary. After providing a result that explains why this is so,, I will present a model and simulation results exhibiting conditions under which such vocabulary can emerge from simple learning (...)
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