|Title:||Some Experimental Aspects of Optimality-Theoretic Pragmatics|
|Abstract:||The article has three main concerns: (i) it gives a concise introduction into optimality-theoretic pragmatics; (ii) it discusses the relation to alternative accounts (relevance theory and Levinson's theory of presumptive meanings); (iii) it reviews recent findings concerning the psychological reality of optimality-theoretic pragmatics and its central part concept – bidirectional optimization. A present challenge is to close the gap between experimental pragmatics and neo-Gricean theories of pragmatics. I claim that OT pragmatics helps to overcome this gap, in particular in connection with the discussion of asymmetries between natural language comprehension and production. The theoretical debate will be concentrated on two different ways of interpreting bidirection: (a) bidirectional optimization as a psychologically realistic online mechanism; (b) bidirectional optimization as an offline phenomenon of
fossilizing optimal form-meaning pairs. It will be argued that neither of these extreme views fits completely with the empirical data when taken per se.