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Journal Articles Journal of Literary Semantics Year : 2004

Communication and levels of meaning


Drawing on some major insights in linguistic pragmatics (Grice 1989; Sperber and Wilson [1986] 1995), this paper offers a taxonomy of complex semantic content. Three main classes are distinguished, depending on the level at which communication takes place: (1) the standard level of communication, on which ordinary conversation relies and to which narration corresponds in literature (metaphors are communicated at this level); (2) a superimposed level at which implicit indications can be given concerning the hidden structure of a piece or its symbolic meaning (parallels and allegories); (3) no communication actually occurs in the last category—rather, inferences relevant to interpretation are drawn from indications not unlike those one leaves with the tone of one’s voice.

Dates and versions

hal-02430317 , version 1 (07-01-2020)



Olivier Simonin. Communication and levels of meaning. Journal of Literary Semantics, 2004, 33 (1), ⟨10.1515/jlse.2004.003⟩. ⟨hal-02430317⟩


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