What is a context?

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Although most scholars would accept that the notion of context is fundamental not only for pragmatics, but also for linguistics in general, robust theories of context are lacking. After sketching traditional approaches that suppose a scale between neutral and rich contexts, mapping aspects of this scale into components or levels of linguistic description, the notion of context in recent discussions of minimalism versus contextualism is focused. It turns out that this debate gains momentum exactly because of different conceptualisations of the notion of context. Findings from research in experimental pragmatics, especially from a psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic point of view, may help here because aspects of a context are directly investigated.


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