Volume 20, Issue 3, 2020
On Pietroski’s Conjoining Meanings
What Do We Experience When Listening to a Familiar Language?
What do we systematically experience when hearing an utterance in a familiar language? A popular and intuitive answer has it that we experience understanding an utterance or what the speaker said or communicated by uttering a sentence. Understanding a meaning conveyed by the speaker is an important element of linguistic communication that might be experienced in such cases. However, in this paper I argue that two other elements that typically accompany the production of spoken linguistic utterances should be carefully considered when we address the question of what is systematically experienced when we listen to utterances in a familiar language. First, when we listen to a familiar language we register various prosodic phenomena that speakers routinely produce. Second, we typically register stable vocal characteristics of speakers, such as pitch, tempo or accent, that are often systematically related to various properties of the speaker. Thus, the answer to the question of what we typically experience when listening to a familiar language is likely to be a complex one. Dedicated attention is needed to understand the nature and scope of phenomenology that pertains to linguistic communication. This paper lays some groundwork for that project.