Attention to the speaker. The conscious assessment of utterance interpretations in working memory

Language and Communication 33:106-114 (2013)
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The role of conscious attention in language processing has been scarcely considered, despite the wide-spread assumption that verbal utterances manage to attract and manipulate the addressee’s attention. Here I claim that this assumption is to be understood not as a figure of speech but instead in terms of attentional processes proper. This hypothesis can explain a fact that has been noticed by supporters of Relevance Theory in pragmatics: the special role played by speaker-related information in utterance interpretation. I argue that representation of the speaker in working memory reliably enhances the activation of speaker-related information and, consequently, the role it plays in determining the content of interpretations.
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