LING190 - POLITENESS AND STRATEGIC: Politeness and Strategic Interaction

Pragmatics tells us about how meaning arises through use. In this course, we will look at how language and other signaling systems are used in populations and how conventions and usage patterns arise over time. Game theoretic pragmatics has introduced the idea that communication in- volves strategic reasoning. Among the goals of this move are to connect language to communication systems in general and to show how language solves some of the particular problems presented by communication. Lan- guage has a number of interesting properties including the use of politeness and deception. Politness involves the use of additional effort by a subordinate individual in a relationship that involves potential power asymmetries. This seems to violate the Zahavi Handicap Principle which requires that honest signaling be costly. Deception goes against a general preference for truthful- ness in cases where there is a partial or complete divergence of interest on the part of the speaker and hearer. Why doesn t language simply break down under these pressures? To understand these issues, we ll look at the social evolution of signaling games and, where possible, place them in the context primate behavior.
Section 001 - LEC