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Signaling Without Saying: The Semantics and Pragmatics of Dogwhistles

Date and Time: 
Thursday, January 28, 2021. 03:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Zoom
Workshop: 
Cognition and Language Workshop
Meeting Description: 

A dogwhistle is a piece of language that sends one message to an outgroup while at the same time sending a second (often taboo, controversial, or inflammatory) message to an ingroup. Professors Henderson and McCready propose an analysis of dogwhistles in the setting of social meaning games that treats them as signaling the persona of the speaker, and in some circumstances enabling an enrichment of the conventional meaning of the expression. They compare this account with views in terms of conventional implicature, invited inference, and classical gricean implicature. They further show how this formal framework allows, not just a account of dogwhistles, but opens up a way to analyze a variety of sociopramgatic phenomena involving trust, reliability, ideology, standpoints, etc.

Robert Henderson is associate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona. Elin McCready is professor in the Department of English at Aoyama Gakuin University (Japan).

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