Biolinguistics XXI: Semantics and Pragmatics

Ramón Casares
2019 Figshare  
I defend that the main task of language is to deal with intended meanings, and therefore that language should be centered on semantics and pragmatics. I propose a subjectivist program based on problem solving to achieve that conception of language. I argue that the predominant program of language, which is centered on syntax, is driving biolinguistics to a dead-end. In summary, this is a paper on the foundations of biolinguistics that proposes a new balance where semantics and pragmatics will
more » ... d pragmatics will weigh more and syntax less.Long abstractCalculating meaningless sentences would be useless and a waste of computing resources, implying that the survival value of non-semantic language would be zero, or less. A consequence is that from syntax alone we cannot explain the evolution of language. This agrees with two propositions defended in the paper: that the main task of language is to deal with intended meanings, and then that language should be centered on semantics and pragmatics.Biolinguistics is firmly based on the fact that language is a biological product, and then designed by evolution. Therefore, the scientific theory explaining language has to be evolutionary. In other words, biolinguistics is the discipline where language should be explained, because language has to be explained evolutionarily, and this explanation requires semantics and pragmatics, because syntax alone cannot do it.Language is much more than syntax. For example, syntax, which examines each sentence by itself, cannot see a question-answer pair as a collaborative act by which two persons compose a single meaning together, so syntax is blind to the cooperative nature of language. Unfortunately, ignoring the cooperative nature of language would be fatal to ascertain its survival value, if cooperation was a factor in the evolution of language. And the point is that questioning the role of cooperation in the evolution of language cannot even be formulated in syntax, since syntax is blind to cooperation.I am insisti [...]
doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.11300558 fatcat:ya6ubi6cczculbtdokcpezjqme