Immediate and General Common Ground

  • Leda BerioEmail author
  • Anja Latrouite
  • Robert Van Valin
  • Gottfried Vosgerau
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10257)


The traditional literalism account of meaning has been challenged by several theories that stress the importance of context and of contextual information in communication, especially for mechanisms of meaning determination and reference fixing. However, the role of lexical meaning in such contextualist accounts often remains only vaguely defined. In this paper, we defend an account of communication that keeps the advantages of contextualist theories, while a new element is introduced that we claim could help to solve some of the remaining issues. By differentiating Immediate and General Common Ground in communication, we draw a distinction between mechanisms related to the situation at hand and those concerned with world and language knowledge. We further argue that such a distinction can help to understand cases of loose use and metaphors of which we provide some examples. Finally, we claim that this distinction has grammatical reality, as it is shown by the examples from Lakhota (North America), Umpithamu (Australia), Kuuk Thaayorre (Australia) and Mongsen Ao (India) discussed in the paper.


Common Ground Joint Attention Lexical Entry Relevance Theory Literal Meaning 
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.


  1. Coupe, A.: A Grammar of Mongsen Ao Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin and New York (2007)Google Scholar
  2. Gaby, A.: Pragmatically case-marked: non syntactic functions of the Thaayorre ergative suffix. In: Mushin, I., Baker, B. (eds.) Discourse and Grammar in Australian Languages, pp. 111–134. Benjamins, Amsterdam (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Grice, P.: Meaning. Philos. Rev. 66, 377–388 (1957)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Grice, P.: Studies in the Way of Words. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (1989)Google Scholar
  5. Kittilä, S.: Optional marking of arguments. Lang. Sci. 27, 111–134 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Krifka, M., Musan, R.: Information structure: overview and linguistic issues. In: Krifka, M., Musan, R. (eds.) The Expression of Information Structure, pp. 1–44. De Gruyter Mouton, Berlin (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lambrecht, K.: Information Structure and Sentence Form. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lewis, D.: Scorekeeping in a language game. J. Philos. Logic, 8(1) (1979). doi: 10.1007/bf00258436
  9. McGregor, W.: Optional ergative case marking systems in a typological-semiotic perspective. Lingua 120, 1610–1636 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. McGregor, W.: Optionality in grammar and language use. Linguistics 51, 1147–1204 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Perry, J.: Indexicals and demonstratives. In: Hale, R., Wright, C. (eds.) Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Blackwells Publishers Inc., Oxford (1997)Google Scholar
  12. Rayo, A.: A Plea for Semantic Localism. Nous 47(4), 647–679 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Schieffelin, B.: The acquisition of Kaluli. In: Slobin, D. (ed.) The Cross-Linguistic Study of Language- Acquisition, pp. 525–593. Lawrence Earlbaum, Hillsdale (1985)Google Scholar
  14. Ullrich, J.: New Lakota Dictionary, 2nd edn. Lakota Language Corsotium, Bloomington (2001)Google Scholar
  15. Van Valin, R.D.: Meaning and interpretation. J. Pragmat. 4(3), 213–231 (1980). doi: 10.1016/0378-2166(80)90037-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Verstraete, J.C.: Animacy and information structure in the system of ergative marking in Umpithamu. Lingua 120, 1637–1651 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Wilson, D., Sperber, D.: Meaning and Relevance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Wittgenstein, L.: Philosophical Investigations. Wiley, Hoboken (2010)zbMATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leda Berio
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anja Latrouite
    • 1
  • Robert Van Valin
    • 1
  • Gottfried Vosgerau
    • 1
  1. 1.Heinrich Heine UniversitätDüsseldorfGermany

Personalised recommendations