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Journal Articles Language in Society Year : 2022

Context, precision, and social perception: A sociopragmatic study


Abstract In two perception experiments we explore the social indexicality of numerical expressions, comparing the evaluation of three variants: precise (e.g. ‘forty-nine minutes’) vs. explicitly approximate (e.g. ‘about fifty minutes’) vs. underspecified (e.g. ‘fifty minutes’). We ask two questions: (i) What constellations of social meanings are associated with each of these variants? (ii) How are such indexical associations modulated by the conversational setting? We find that the choice of approximate vs. precise forms differentially impact speaker evaluation along the social dimensions of Status, Solidarity, and anti-Solidarity, with underspecified numbers showing a flexible behavior. Furthermore, these associations are to some extent affected by the conversational setting, in particular the demands on descriptive precision placed by the context and the interlocutors’ goals. These findings reveal an intimate connection between pragmatic reasoning and social perception, highlighting the importance of integrating pragmatic theory in the study of social indexicality. (Social meaning, pragmatic variation, social perception, numerals, (im)precision)*


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hal-03780645 , version 1 (30-12-2022)




Andrea Beltrama, Stephanie Solt, Heather Burnett. Context, precision, and social perception: A sociopragmatic study. Language in Society, 2022, pp.1-31. ⟨10.1017/S0047404522000240⟩. ⟨hal-03780645⟩
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