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HOW SILENCE SPEAKS VOLUMES
University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal
The motivational causes and effects of
silence in social interaction are often described in considerable detail. Some
of the many studies of silence are closely related to research into listening
and have a strong impact on the development of communicative competence in
general, and foreign or additional language learning in particular. However, a
concise, explicit and unified explanatory account of silence in human
interaction, one that would make it possible to spell out the relationship
between the causes and effects of communicative silence, has not been proposed.
The present paper sketches the lines along which such an account could be
developed in the context of relevance-theoretic assumptions about human
communication and cognition. The discussion draws on descriptions of several
real-life situations to demonstrate that silence does speak, provided
one knows how to listen.
Keywords: Silence; Communication; Cognition;
Relevance; Context; Ostensive stimulus.
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