Generative linguistics has been portrayed as a branch of cognitive studies of the human mind and brain. Cognitive pragmatics is the study of the linguistic aspects of language use within the methodological and theoretical framework of cognitive science.
The term cognitive science has been broadly used since the early 1970s, to denote studies of the human mind and brain, done mostly by linguists, philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists, within a certain framework. (For a general history of the field, see Gardner 1985; for the history of its linguistic part, see Chomsky 1982. See also Chomsky 1991a, 1991b.) The major objective of cognitive science is an understanding of the human systems of knowledge, their acquisition, their psychological operation and their neural embodiments. It is assumed that abstract systems of knowledge, such as those of language, perception and reasoning, are characterizable independently of their concrete implementations. The latter are rather characterizable in terms of the former: a calculator is explained as an embodiment of arithmetics, which in turn is not adequately explained in terms of chips and buttons. However, when the psychological aspects of acquisition or operation of any cognitive system are studied, the computer qua information processing device serves as a major model. Psychological and neurological studies of the acquisition, operation and implementation of some abstract, cognitive system have naturally given rise to interdisciplinary studies of the human mind and brain.
Cognitive pragmatics is that part of the cognitive studies of language that is related to some system of pragmatic knowledge of language use (See: CHOMSKY AND PRAGMATICS). The notion cognitive pragmatics has been used since the mid-1980s (Kasher (ed). 1988, preface), but studies that fit this label have been made since the mid-1970s.
Theoretical work in pragmatics that can be incorporated into cognitive pragmatics has been done by philosophers since the 1960s (See Austin 1962, Searle 1969, Grice 1989, Recanati 1987. For a survey, see Levinson 1983). Some philosophical work has been done within cognitive pragmatics, setting a general theoretical framework for cognitive studies of language use (e.g., Kasher 1991a, 1991b, Vanderveken 1990-91. See also PRAGMATICS, MODULAR.) Linguistic theoretical systems have also been developed for the explanation of some major problems in pragmatics (e.g., Sperber and Wilson 1986, Ariel 1990). A unified theory, which explains both the philosophical and the linguistic aspects of language use, is expected to emerge from such separate philosophical and linguistic studies. Linguistic and psychological studies of acquisition of pragmatics have often rested on the assumption that nature language is acquired as a communication device directly related to previously acquired, non-verbal communication devices (e.g., Bates 1976. For a survey, see Carroll 1986. See also Bruner 1986). Cognitive studies that do not rest on this problematic assumption (Kasher 1991a) still remain to be done. There is no general theory of the role played by pragmatic factors in speech comprehension and production. Work has been done on some rather restricted though interesting problems, such as understanding indirect speech acts (e.g., Clark 1979). More work has been done about neuro-psychological aspects of language use. Gardner and others (e.g., Gardner et al. 1983) administered a battery of tests, pragmatic and other ones, to right hemisphere damaged subjects and found interesting deficits, such as in comprehension of indirect speech acts. It is still unclear how such results could be explained within a cognitive framework.
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