What can Pragmaticists Learn from Studying Artificial Languages?

  • Alan Reed LibertEmail author
Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS, volume 2)


Among the hundreds of artificial languages put forth as possible international auxiliary languages, relatively few (e.g. Esperanto, Interlingua) have seen a substantial amount of actual use. Given this, one might think that the study of such languages might have little to offer pragmaticists, and indeed there has been very little pragmatic work on them. However, I would argue that the pragmatic investigation of artificial languages can provide useful insights and information. Most designers of artificial languages are not professional linguists. Although they usually say little or nothing about the pragmatics of their languages, what they do say can reveal popular ideas about pragmatics, which may otherwise be difficult to discover. I shall present and discuss relevant remarks by some artificial language designers. I shall also look at several pragmatic features of artificial languages. Although the amount of textual material available in most artificial languages is limited, what exists can be subjected to pragmatic analysis. Perhaps most intriguing are the a priori artificial languages (e.g. aUI), attempts to build a language without borrowing anything from natural languages, as, on the surface, these languages can appear quite odd. I shall present some texts from several artificial languages with a view to seeing whether even apparently exotic artificial languages have the same pragmatic properties as natural languages. Such work can be seen as contributing to the study of cross-linguistic pragmatics.


Natural Language Artificial Language Conversational Implicature Person Plural Illocutionary Force 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia

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