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Immediate and extended intersubjectification in language change: beyond the opposition between ‘theory-theory’ and ‘simulation-theory’

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paperpeer-review

Publication date2014
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventFoundations of Mind - California, Berkeley, United States
Duration: 6/03/20147/03/2014


ConferenceFoundations of Mind
CountryUnited States


This paper provides a usage-based study on the diachronic and conceptual relationship between mindreading (or theory of mind) and language change. A particular emphasis is given to the two models known in cognitive neurosciences as ‘theory-theory’ (TT) and ‘simulation-theory’ (ST). While the former holds that people somehow acquire a general ‘theory’ of the mental domain (a sort of 'folk-psychology' analogous to their theories of the physical world) the latter addresses mindreading as a simulation process (cf. Goldman 2006). The present study suggests that ST and TT might coexist along a conceptual continuum running from a more representational and imaginative form of mindreading process to a more inferential and generalised one. As ST presents many affinities with linguistic constructions marking the awareness of a specific addressee, TT appears to be comparatively more compatible with the semantics of intersubjectified constructions encoding a more extended form of awareness of the other persona(s’) mind(s). The former phenomenon is defined in language as immediate intersubjectivity (I-I), while the latter is identified as extended intersubjectivity (E-I) (cf. Tantucci 2013). I-I and E-I constitute two different stages along a general diachronic cline of change of a linguistic construction or lexeme.