Linguistics meets economics: Dealing with semantic variation

Adam D. Clark-Joseph, Brian D. Joseph


We explore here what happens in conversation when listeners encounter variation as well as change in semantics. Working within a general Gricean framework, and in ways somewhat akin to the “Cheap Talk” model of Crawford and Sobel (1982) and the “Rational Speech Act” model of Goodman and Frank (2016), we develop here a transactional view of communicative acts, based largely on insights drawn from economics. Taking a novel perspective, we build on what happens when communication misfires rather than examining what makes for successful communication. We see this effort as a demonstration of the utility of taking an economic perspective on linguistic issues, specifically the analysis of communicative acts.


variation; semantics; communicative act; Grice; transaction; economics

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2020 Adam D. Clark-Joseph, Brian D. Joseph

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Donate to the Open-Access Fund of the LSA

Linguistic Society of America

Advancing the Scientific Study of Language since 1924

ISSN (online): 2473-8689

This publication is made available for free to readers and with no charge to authors thanks in part to your continuing LSA membership and your donations to the open access fund.