Communicative intention

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Encyclopedia entry

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The Cambridge encyclopedia of the language sciences

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Cambridge University Press


Late twentieth-century discussion of the nature of communicative intention was dominated by the theories of British philosopher Herbert Paul Grice. Grice initially (1957) argued that the primary intended effect of an indicative utterance was to get the hearer to believe the proposition expressed; an essential component of this communicative intention was the intention to have this effect be achieved through the hearer's recognition of that intention. He eventually acknowledged that there were counterexamples to this analysis and subsequently (1968; 1969, 171-2) proposed that the primary communicative intention must be that the hearer should at least come to believe that the utterer has some particular thought or belief. Grice also allowed that speakers need not intend to change the attitudes of some specific, actual audience; instead, this part of the communicative intention concerns what is meant to happen should there be an audience having such-and-such characteristics.

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Copyright © 2011 Cambridge University Press

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ISBN of the source publication: 9780521866897



Recommended Citation

Livingston, P. (2011). Communicative intention. In P. C. Hogan (Ed.), The Cambridge encyclopedia of the language sciences (pp. 182-183). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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