Preemptive interaction as trigger of language change and indicator of intersubjective reasoning - The case of [There is no NP]

Abstract

This study tackles the preemptive dimension of interactional exchanges. Dialogues are not merely characterised by speech acts underpinning actual interaction. They are also constantly informed by preemptive attempts to address potential reactions to what is said. We argue that the preemptive dimension of interactional exchanges intersects with intersubjectivity (i.a. Schwenter & Waltereit 2010; Tantucci 2017a, 2017b) and constitutes an important trigger of semantic and pragmatic reanalysis. The notion of preemptive interaction draws on the so-called pragmatic turn in cognitive neurosciences, whereby cognition is observed as being inherently “enactive” (Engel et al. 2014). From this angle, cognitive processes tend to foreground and prescribe possible actions rather than merely representing present states of the outside world. We provide a multifactorial, corpus-based study centred on the semasiological change of the [there is no NP] construction in Middle English, originally being used as a bare assertion (there is no truth in you EEBO/I.B./1581), yet progressively acquiring a new function of preemptive refusal (there is no reason in the world that you should adde any one thing that is false CED/Trial/1678). We combine a number of machine learning models, including conditional inference trees, multiple correspondence analysis and Markov chains in order to identify multifactorial tendencies that concur to the illocutionary shift from on-going, to preemptive interactional usages of [there is no NP]. We finally compare our results with corpus-based data centred on the CHILDES database of first language acquisition. We distinctively focus on the ontogenetic shift from real to preemptive functions of [there is no NP] as a mechanism hinging on intersubjective reasoning and Theory of Mind.

Date
9 Jun 2019 13:00
Location
Hong Kong

This study tackles the preemptive dimension of interactional exchanges. Dialogues are not merely characterised by speech acts underpinning actual interaction. They are also constantly informed by preemptive attempts to address potential reactions to what is said. We argue that the preemptive dimension of interactional exchanges intersects with intersubjectivity (i.a. Schwenter & Waltereit 2010; Tantucci 2017a, 2017b) and constitutes an important trigger of semantic and pragmatic reanalysis. The notion of preemptive interaction draws on the so-called pragmatic turn in cognitive neurosciences, whereby cognition is observed as being inherently “enactive” (Engel et al. 2014). From this angle, cognitive processes tend to foreground and prescribe possible actions rather than merely representing present states of the outside world. We provide a multifactorial, corpus-based study centred on the semasiological change of the [there is no NP] construction in Middle English, originally being used as a bare assertion (there is no truth in you EEBO/I.B./1581), yet progressively acquiring a new function of preemptive refusal (there is no reason in the world that you should adde any one thing that is false CED/Trial/1678). We combine a number of machine learning models, including conditional inference trees, multiple correspondence analysis and Markov chains in order to identify multifactorial tendencies that concur to the illocutionary shift from on-going, to preemptive interactional usages of [there is no NP]. We finally compare our results with corpus-based data centred on the CHILDES database of first language acquisition. We distinctively focus on the ontogenetic shift from real to preemptive functions of [there is no NP] as a mechanism hinging on intersubjective reasoning and Theory of Mind.

References:
Engel, A. K., Friston, K. J., & Kragic, D. (2014). Where's the action? In A. K. Engel, K. J. Friston, & D. Kragic (Eds.), The pragmatic turn: Toward action-oriented views in cognitive science. Cambridge/London: MIT.
Schwenter, S. A., & Waltereit, R. (2010). Presupposition accommodation and language change. In K. Davidse & L. Vandelanotte (Eds.), Subjectification, Intersubjectification and Grammaticalization (pp. 75–102). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Tantucci, V. (2017). From immediate to extended intersubjectification: A gradient approach to intersubjective awareness and semasiological change. Language and Cognition, 9(1), 88–120.
Tantucci, V. (2017). An evolutionary approach to semasiological change: Overt influence attempts through the development of the Mandarin 吧-ba particle. Journal of Pragmatics, 120, 35–53.