Towards a Pragmatic Taxonomy of Misunderstandings
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The increasing emphasis given to the pragmatic perspective in the studies of everyday conversation over the last few decades has uncovered the reality which lies behind everyday conversation: the fact that communication is subject to risk and effort, and that we understand each other through continuous fallible hypotheses about our interlocutor’s intended interpretation. In this study, I address misunderstandings from a pragmatic (mainly relevance-theoretic) approach and analyse the reasons why they occur in face-to-face interaction. The main hypothesis underlying this paper is that all the possible varieties of misunderstanding can be accounted for in the outcome of the combination of three preliminary continua: intentional vs. unintentional; verbal vs. nonverbal; and explicit vs. implicit, which yields a taxonomy of twelve possible cases.