cSCAN Rounds

'Communicative intentions and the emergence of linguistic communication'

Linguistic communication is ostensive-inferential. That is, production is an act of ostension, in which evidence is provided for the meaning that the speaker wishes to convey; and comprehension is an act of inference, in which that evidence is used to infer the speaker's intended meaning. These mechanisms of ostension and inference make linguistic communication quite different to any other form of communication in the natural world. What is the cognitive basis for ostensive-inferential communication, and how does it affect the emergence of communication systems? I will present recent experimental work I have conducted that begins to address these two questions.