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WIP#2: "Embodied Interpretation and the Nonhuman in Formal Semantics and Pragmatics"

Saturday, 10 June 2023, 10-11:30 AM JST

Elin McCready (Professor, Semantics and Pragmatics, Department of English, AGU)

This talk considers how representing embodiment in natural language at the interpretative level can be used to deanthropomorphize narrative (and language more generally). I begin with a brief introduction to semantics and pragmatics and the current state of play in these fields, and then turn to an overview of my joint work with E. Ottosson on the topic of anthropomorphic narrative, which we claimed to be unavoidable in natural language due to presuppositions about embodiment that appear there. There we explored alternative notions of narrative stemming from craft -- which we proposed to view as a form of narrative turning away from natural language -- and from the `gathering narratives' of Ursula Le Guin. An alternative is to decenter the human body at the interpretative level using the tools of semantics and pragmatics. I present an initial attempt at formalizing embodiment and show how it might be used to take language away from the human.

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