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The Use of Language cover

The Use of Language

Prashant Parikh

The Use of Language provides the first game-theoretic account of communication, speaker meaning, and interpretation, and more general types of information flow. The analysis is then extended to conversational implicature and to a new explanation of the Gricean maxims and various important properties of implicature. The book also develops game-theoretic models of illocutionary force, miscommunication, and aspects of discourse. Lastly, it offers a new account of visual representation and visual implicature.

Prashant Parikh is a research scholar at the Institute for Research in Cognitve Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Advance Praise for Use of Language
Dr. Parikh has developed a very original way of considering communication as expressed in language or visually. He has argued that many apparently odd features of actual communication can be explained in rational terms, as minimizing communication length. The richness of his examples and results is accompanied by a high clarity of exposition.
Kenneth J. Arrow
Nobel Memorial Laureate
Department of Economics, Stanford University

Building on the writings of J. L. Austin and Paul Grice, Prashant Parikh develops an original and insightful systematic account of communication in a game theoretic framework. These are the right tools for the articulation and application of Gricean ideas about speaker meaning and conversational implicature, with their emphasis on speech as rational action and on the reflective interaction of speaker and audience, and this book brings out in rich detail how fruitful the framework can be.
Robert Stalnaker
Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Read an excerpt from this book.


  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 Introduction 1
  • I Communication and Information Flow 11
    • 2 Setting Things Up 13
    • 3 Games Rational Agents Play 25
    • 4 Solving Games Rational Agents Play 35
    • 5 The Assumptions 47
    • 6 Definitions 55
  • II Extensions 73
    • 7 Conversational Implicature 75
    • 8 Illocutionary Force 97
    • 9 Miscommunication 103
    • 10 Visual Representation 109
    • 11 Visual Implicature 123
    • 12 Jokes, Puzzles, and Problems 129
    • 13 Conclusion 141
  • Appendix: The Mathematical Model 145
  • References 159
  • Index 163


ISBN (Paperback): 1575863545 (9781575863542)
ISBN (Cloth): 1575863553 (9781575863559)
ISBN (electronic): 1575867370 (9781575867373)

Subject: Language and languages; Communication

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