My book: A Pragmatic Analysis of Legal Proofs of Criminal Intent. (2007 John Benjamins) discussed the means for demonstrating criminal intent in court and showed that the defendant’s intent is usually inferred from the messages delivered among the people involved in the case either explicitly or implicitly. This result led me to study the way messages are delivered implicitly – the question of what is conveyed “between the lines”; I focus on the linguistic and the pragmatic means that are available to the [Hebrew] speaker and allow him/her to express more than is said in the communicational process explicitly. I discuss these means in:
Means of interpretation for identifying attitude assimilated into the meta-linguistic levels. 2010. In: Ben-Shahar, Rina; Toury, Gideon and Ben-Ari, Nitsa (eds.) Hebrew a Living Language: Studies on Language in Cultural-Social Contexts. Hakibbutz Hameuchad & Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics, Tel-Aviv University, vol. 5, 7-26.
The language of polemic discourse in the judicial drama. 2012. In: Tobi, Yosef and Kurzon, Dennis (eds.) Hikrei Ma‘arav u-Mizrah. Jerusalem, Carmel Publishing, vol. I, 211-233.
Semantically cued unspoken assumptions in the legal text. 2010. Journal of Pragmatics 42: 728–743.
In this last article I analyze a (legal) text that presents an argument containing parts (premises) that are not said explicitly: parts that are represented in the explicit text only by means of structural-pragmatic cues.
The results of the study of the pragmatic means that allow speakers to express meanings implicitly, encouraged me to develop a linguistic tool of interpretation usable in studies of human verbal communication. Interpretive precepts are often derived from principles that communicated texts are said to comply with; for example, both Horn and Levinson derive their neo-Gricean interpretive systems of heuristics from Grice’s maxims of rational communication (Horn 1984: 11-2; Levinson 2000: 213). In a similar way, I derive a tool of interpretation from two principles of Sperber and Wilson’s relevance theory: the communicative principle of relevance and the commonplace principle of deducibility (saying that the conclusions implicated, according to the interpretation, by a text must be deducible from the interpreted text). This tool consists of three conditions that function as a criterion of correctness of interpretations in the following sense: if an interpretation meets the three conditions then it reconstructs the meanings the text’s producer intended to convey by the text’s sentences – whether these meanings were presented explicitly or not.
The tool of interpretation is intended for people who wish to make sure that they thoroughly understand a certain text (including the meaning hidden between its lines) in general, and in particular for legal laypersons who wish to make sure that they thoroughly understand a legal text.
Identifying the meanings hidden in legal texts: The three conditions of relevance theory and their sufficiency. 2016. Semiotica 209: 99-123.
I exemplify that this tool of interpretation can be used as an interpretative tool enabling knowledgeable recipients of spoken Hebrew to identify the interpretation that reconstructs the meaning intended by the producer of a judicial opinion. I demonstrated there a theorem saying that if some interpretation of a certain text meets three conditions then it is the correct interpretation. Showing that it can be decided which of two texts is more relevant to a certain individual completes the proof of this theorem. I show, in particular, that the general method of measuring the relevance of a text to an individual I present, enables decision in cases of doubt whether a given interpretation of a certain text is, indeed, the text’s correct interpretation.
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