Legon Journal of the Humanities

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‘I just said It, I didn’t mean anything:’ Culture and Pragmatic Inference in Interpersonal Communication

Felix Nwabeze Ogoanah, Stella Nkechi Kpolugbo


Socio-cultural practices and the economy of expression, which generally characterise human communication, significantly widen the gap between linguistic meaning and speaker’s meaning. What the hearer does is to construct hypotheses about the speaker’s meaning based on contextual and background assumptions and the general principles that speakers are supposed to observe in normal circumstances (Kecskés, 2009, p.106).Drawing examples from spoken data selected from interpersonal interactions and analysed within the relevance-theoretic framework of inferential pragmatics, this paper demonstrates how cultural considerations function as inputs to the cognitive process, and how the human capacity for inference is crucially important in interpersonal communication.

AJOL African Journals Online