In pragmatics, it is widely accepted that the overall meaning of an utterance performed as part of a verbal interchange is basically underdetermined by the meaning of the sentence uttered. What counts as having been said for most contemporary authors goes far beyond sentence meaning. Rather, it has to be considered as a complex utterance level combining semantic knowledge and context-driven, pragmatic information as an integrated whole.
The focus of the present book lies on central questions about the nature, the function and the acquisition of pragmatic inferencing strategies. The question of the relation between the explicit and the implicit side of verbal communication and its mutual delimitation isaddressed. What is the character of pragmatic inferences, wherever they may be situated in a descriptive model? Are they nonce inferences arising anew in each act of communication, or do we have to conceive of them as based on regularities and conventions? What is an adequate model of the acquisition of the skills which are relevant for mastering the inferential processes leading to an adequate interpretation of utterances? And what is the relation between a theory of pragmatic enrichment and optimality theory with an OT pragmatics as a possible result?