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Considerable progress continues to be made with regards to the value and use of disease associated polygenic scores (PGS). PGS aim to capture a person’s genetic liability to a condition, disease, or a trait, combining information across many risk variants and incorporating their effect sizes. They are already available for clinicians and consumers to order in Australasia. However, debate is ongoing over the readiness of this information for integration into clinical practice and population health. This position statement provides the viewpoint of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA) regarding the clinical application of disease-associated PGS in both individual patients and population health. The statement details how PGS are calculated, highlights their breadth of possible application, and examines their current challenges and limitations. We consider fundamental lessons from Mendelian genetics and their continuing relevance to PGS, while also acknowledging the distinct elements of PGS. Use of PGS in practice should be evidence based, and the evidence for the associated benefit, while rapidly emerging, remains limited. Given that clinicians and consumers can already order PGS, their current limitations and key issues warrant consideration. PGS can be developed for most complex conditions and traits and can be used across multiple clinical settings and for population health. The HGSA’s view is that further evaluation, including regulatory, implementation and health system evaluation are required before PGS can be routinely implemented in the Australasian healthcare system.
In this chapter, we introduce the main ideas behind relevance theory. We begin by considering how it developed out of the Gricean approach to pragmatics, and we look at how it differs from that approach. Relevance theory is a cognitive pragmatic theory of how we process utterances (and information) in context. The chapter begins with a discussion of relevance and cognition, and we outline the relevance-theoretic characterisation of context. This then leads us to a definition of what it means for something to be relevant, and we introduce the two principles which drive the relevance-theoretic approach to utterance interpretation. When information is intentionally communicated (both in utterances and in other forms of communication), we say it is ostensive. Ostensive communication is, according to relevance theory, special. It raises expectations of how relevant it will be for the addressee, and this has important consequences for how we process information and how we understand utterance interpretation. We will see that this leads us to the relevance-theoretic comprehension procedure which describes how we go about processing intentionally communicated information.
In this chapter we take a closer look at figurative language from a pragmatic perspective. Figurative language is also often associated with literary language. However, as we shall see, from a pragmatic perspective, non-literal use of language extends far beyond the devices and tropes traditionally associated with rhetoric and poetry. The inferential processes that we employ to interpret metaphors, irony, and other figuratively used language, are part of a more general pragmatic system. Non-literal use of language is pervasive, and the processing of non-literal language plays a central role in utterance interpretation. We focus on metaphor, hyperbole, and irony, outlining several of the most influential pragmatic approaches to the analyses of these and starting with the Gricean account. The field of lexical pragmatics is introduced, and a range of examples are discussed to illustrate just how often we use language ‘loosely’. This approach is then applied to approximations, hyperbole, and metaphor. In the second half of the chapter, attention turns to irony, and two leading analyses are introduced and then compared: irony as pretence and irony as echoic use.
In this chapter we turn our attention to the role that pragmatics plays in the study of social interaction. When we communicate, we do not simply exchange information. We also manage relationships. As speakers, we can choose to be more or less direct, more or less formal, and more or less attentive to our hearers. The decisions that speakers make are often motivated by concern for how their hearers will react to the utterance, and by the effect that this might then have on the relationship. Perhaps the most influential work in this area of pragmatics is Brown and Levinson’s model of politeness. The first half of this chapter provides an overview of their framework and the politeness strategies that they propose. In the second half of the chapter, we discuss some recent developments that have arisen in response to Brown and Levinson’s work. These include analyses of impoliteness, consideration of how cultural variation might be incorporated into the pragmatics of interaction, and a shift to focus less on politeness and more on a broader notion of the relational work that speakers perform.
In this chapter, we discuss how the various assumptions and principles that underlie the relevance-theoretic pragmatic framework can be applied to the pragmatic processes and inferential tasks. We begin by introducing relevance as an analytical framework that is based on key assumptions about human cognition and communication. These assumptions have consequences, and they allow us to explain and predict how utterances are interpreted. We see how these consequences play out in a range of examples that are discussed in the rest of the chapter. We start by looking at implicitly communicated meaning, before considering where we might draw the line between implicitly and explicitly communicated meaning. According to relevance theory, inference plays a role, not only in working out what a speaker is implicating, but also in working out what she is explicitly communicating. We then look in more detail at the various inferential processes that contribute to a speaker’s explicit meaning (reference assignment, disambiguation, and pragmatic enrichment), and we think about how a hearer reaches a hypothesis about the speaker’s overall intended meaning.
In this chapter, we take a closer look at the components that make up a speaker’s intended meaning. The aim of this chapter is to give an overview of the breadth and depth of pragmatic work that is involved in everyday communication. Working out what a speaker intends to communicate on any given occasion involves more than just decoding the words that she has uttered. In this chapter, we introduce the pragmatic processes that are involved in deriving a speaker’s overall intended meaning. We start by considering the processes that are involved in working out what the speaker intends to explicitly communicate. This section will include discussion of reference assignment, disambiguation, and pragmatic enrichment. We then look at the contribution that speech acts and communication of speaker emotion play. Finally, we consider examples of implicitly communicated meaning. In short, this chapter lays out the gaps between what is said and what is communicated and demonstrates how these need to be filled to derive a speaker’s intended meaning.
In Chapter 1, we introduce the subject of pragmatics and cover some basic concepts, definitions, and topics that will be central to the ideas discussed in the rest of the book. We begin with some definitions of pragmatics, and a key distinction is made between approaches which focus on social factors, and those which take a more theoretical approach. We move on to think about the role that context plays in interpretation. This leads us to a key distinction between sentences and utterances, with utterances as the focus of pragmatics. We then consider two different ways in which meaning may be communicated: via code and via inference. As we will see, inference plays a central role in the interpretation of utterances. Next, we discuss the idea that the identification of intention lies at the heart of utterance interpretation. This leads to a discussion of the cognitive abilities that are thought to underlie inferential processes, including mindreading, metarepresentation, and theory of mind. We look at what it means to be able to have thoughts about other people’s thoughts and why this is key for pragmatic processing.
In this chapter, the focus turns to practical matters as we outline the various ways in which pragmatics can be researched. To answer a pragmatics-focused research question or to investigate the pragmatics of an issue or practice we need two things. We need a theory of pragmatics, and we need data. We take a closer look at theoretical frameworks and the role they play in shaping a piece of research. We then move on to look at the different sorts of data that might be collected as part of a pragmatics research project. We discuss how intuition plays a role in research and how constructed examples can be used to test predictions and to fine-tune our understanding. We discuss free production tasks and judgement tasks, and we look at some examples of pragmatics research that has used transcripts, texts, or corpora for analysis. Finally, we discuss some of the practicalities of research in pragmatics. We think about how to find a topic to investigate, the ethical considerations that must be part of any project plan, and the issue of diversity and bias in research.
In this chapter, we look at how the field of pragmatics has developed following Grice. We begin with a discussion of some common questions, problems, and objections that arise in relation to Grice’s work on pragmatics. While Grice is without a doubt one of the most influential figures in pragmatics, his work has been criticised on several grounds, and we explore some of these here. We look at general issues relating to the origins and universality of the Gricean framework, as well as asking more specific questions about the operation of individual maxims. A key criticism of Grice has been that his work is rooted in one social and cultural context. We discuss a key study by Keenan which considers how conversations and interactions play out in a community with cultural assumptions, which differ significantly from the world in which Grice developed his ideas. We then move on to consider two influential accounts that have developed out of Grice’s work, but which broadly maintain his overall approach. Such approaches are known as neo-Gricean. We outline work by Horn and Levinson, and we see how their proposed principles explain various types of inference and implicature.
In this chapter, we think about the different things that we do when we produce utterances. Communication is not only about the exchange of information. We also perform acts and, in some cases, change the world when we speak, sign, or write. Speech act theory emerged as a means of understanding and analysing the things we do when we use language. We track the development of speech act theory, focusing on the work of two influential thinkers in the field: Austin and Searle. We begin by looking at what Austin called performatives and discuss how their meaning can be understood in terms of felicity conditions. We then move on to explore Austin’s distinction between locutionary acts, illocutionary acts, and perlocutionary acts. John R. Searle’s work responds to and develops the work of Austin. He identifies four categories of felicity condition and uses these to propose a classification system for illocutionary acts. We consider Searle’s discussion of indirect speech acts as a key contribution to speech act theory and pragmatics more widely. The chapter ends with a brief overview of how speech act theory has been applied and developed since the work of Austin and Searle.
Pragmatics – the study of language in context, and of how we understand what other people say – is a core subject in English language, linguistics, and communication studies. This textbook introduces the key topics in this fast-moving field, including metaphor, irony, politeness, disambiguation, and reference assignment. It walks the reader through the essential theories in pragmatics, including Grice, relevance theory, speech act theory, and politeness theory. Each chapter includes a range of illustrative examples, guiding readers from the basic principles to a thorough understanding of the topics. A dedicated chapter examines how research is conducted in pragmatics, providing students with resources and ideas for developing their own projects. Featuring exercises, a comprehensive glossary, and suggestions for further reading, this book is accessible to beginner undergraduates, including those with no prior knowledge of linguistics. It is an essential resource for courses in English language, English studies, and linguistics.