Pointing and reference reconsidered

Lücking A, Pfeiffer T, Rieser H (2015)
Journal of Pragmatics 77: 56-79.

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Journal Article | Published | English
Abstract
Current semantic theory on indexical expressions claims that demonstratively used indexicals such as this lack a referent-determining meaning but instead rely on an accompanying demonstration act like a pointing gesture. While this view allows to set up a sound logic of demonstratives, the direct-referential role assigned to pointing gestures has never been scrutinized thoroughly in semantics or pragmatics. We investigate the semantics and pragmatics of co-verbal pointing from a foundational perspective combining experiments, statistical investigation, computer simulation and theoretical modeling techniques in a novel manner. We evaluate various referential hypotheses with a corpus of object identification games set up in experiments in which body movement tracking techniques have been extensively used to generate precise pointing measurements. Statistical investigation and computer simulations show that especially distal areas in the pointing domain falsify the semantic direct-referential hypotheses concerning pointing gestures. As an alternative, we propose that reference involving pointing rests on a default inference which we specify using the empirical data. These results raise numerous problems for classical semantics–pragmatics interfaces: we argue for pre-semantic pragmatics in order to account for inferential reference in addition to classical post-semantic Gricean pragmatics.
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Lücking A, Pfeiffer T, Rieser H. Pointing and reference reconsidered. Journal of Pragmatics. 2015;77:56-79.
Lücking, A., Pfeiffer, T., & Rieser, H. (2015). Pointing and reference reconsidered. Journal of Pragmatics, 77, 56-79.
Lücking, A., Pfeiffer, T., and Rieser, H. (2015). Pointing and reference reconsidered. Journal of Pragmatics 77, 56-79.
Lücking, A., Pfeiffer, T., & Rieser, H., 2015. Pointing and reference reconsidered. Journal of Pragmatics, 77, p 56-79.
A. Lücking, T. Pfeiffer, and H. Rieser, “Pointing and reference reconsidered”, Journal of Pragmatics, vol. 77, 2015, pp. 56-79.
Lücking, A., Pfeiffer, T., Rieser, H.: Pointing and reference reconsidered. Journal of Pragmatics. 77, 56-79 (2015).
Lücking, Andy, Pfeiffer, Thies, and Rieser, Hannes. “Pointing and reference reconsidered”. Journal of Pragmatics 77 (2015): 56-79.
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