An ecological approach to the analysis and classification of questions

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Abstract Searle’s (1969, 1979, 1999) analysis and classification of speech acts is based on a theory of intentionality which implies that speech acts basically comprise two components: a proposition and an indication of how the proposition is related to the world. The classification is based on the type of relation to the world. When this analysis and classification is applied to questions two problems appear. Firstly, a number of questions do not comprise a proposition. Secondly, speech acts that comprise a proposition, are not – as Searle’s (1999:149) classification suggests - attempts to make the hearer’s behavior “match the propositional content”. The paper addresses these problems from an ecological pragmatic perspective. The basic assumption in ecological pragmatics is that speech acts evolve in and are embedded in non-communicative activities and must be described as contributions to the performance of activities. In line with this, ecological pragmatics is based on an action-oriented theory of intentionality, namely Gibson's (1979) theory of perception and information. This theory forms the basis for an alternative analysis and classification of questions. The paper presents an ecological semantic (Borchmann 2016) analysis of question’s content component. The empirical basis is 159 questions collected in a cognitive ethnographic study (Hutchins 1995) of the activities of soaring and semi-professional cycling. Two basic ecological semantic concepts are applied in the analysis: mode cue and value (Borchmann 2018). These concepts provide the basis for distinguishing between five types of questions. Each type of question has a distinct semantics and an associated distinct illocutionary value. References Borchmann, Simon (2018) Utterances as Tool-Mediated Specifications of Affordances: Ecological Pragmatics. Psychology of Language and Communication, 22. Borchmann, Simon (2016) En funktionel semantik baseret på økologisk psykologi. NyS 50 – Nydansk sprogstudier. Frederiksberg, Dansk Sprognævn, 183-220. Gibson, James J. (1986) The ecological approach to visual perception. New York, Psychology Press. Hutchins, E. (1995). Cognition in the Wild. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
 Searle, John (1996/1969) Speech acts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Searle, John (1979) Expression and meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Searle, John (1999) Mind, Language and Society. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
Periode15 nov. 2018
BegivenhedstitelQuestioning Questions in Language, Culture and Cognition
PlaceringRoskilde, DanmarkVis på kort
Grad af anerkendelseInternational