From Pragmatics to Neuropragmatics

  • Michela Balconi
  • Simona Amenta


Two metaphors coined by Reddy [1], the conduit metaphor and the toolmaker’s paradigm, can be used to introduce several observations on the nature of communication and its pragmatic properties. The conduit metaphor depicts linguistic expression as channels carrying ideas and meanings: mental representations are poured into the conduit and are extracted from it, without undergoing modifications. Seen in this light, communication is nothing more than the exchange of information among individuals. The toolmaker’s paradigm, by contrast, explains communication through a more complex scenario, in which speakers live in distant worlds; no one knows anything about their language, culture, and characteristics, and the only means of communication is through the exchange of blueprints of tools. Inhabitants of these worlds are proud of their projects and are disappointed when they are misunderstood. In fact, it is reason enough to rejoice when, on occasion, the blueprints are received correctly, without further specifications.


Literal Meaning N400 Effect Inferential Process Figurative Language Pragmatic Theory 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michela Balconi
    • 1
  • Simona Amenta
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCatholic University of MilanMilanItaly

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