Re-contextualising argumentative meanings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study of context can benefit greatly from re-examining some of the concepts
arising from Anscombre and Ducrot's argumentation theory (AT) from an adaptive
perspective. By focusing on discourse dynamism, AT provides fresh angles from which to view key issues, such as the nature of context triggers; whether context construction is necessarily a background activity; in what way utterances set themselves up as contexts for the upcoming discourse; and the nature of the inferences whereby background knowledge and information are accessed. The need for an adaptive perspective arises in connection with AT's construal of context construction, which raises but cannot answer certain questions that are crucial to our understanding of context: these questions concern the source of the background knowledge required to understand the argumentative meanings under consideration.
An adaptive perspective can offer a non-ad-hoc account of the source of the
background knowledge involved, in terms of what pre-existing systems require to
support their processing needs, and the information and knowledge they produce.
Such an account builds on the assumptions that language can avail itself of processing strategies, skills, forms of know-how utilised by pre-existing systems, and has access to knowledge generated by systems such as perception and action production.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-33
Number of pages33
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • context construction
  • argumentation
  • intention
  • action
  • evolution


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