It is axiomatic in the study of pragmatics that speakers must make choices from a myriad of variants in phonology, morphology and syntax "on the fly" during the course of interaction. However, the specific psychological and neurophysiological mechanisms that both prompt these choices have largely been taken for granted. Theoretical approaches to this problem in the past have focused on linguistic mechanisms such as "metapragmatics" or cultural approaches such as the analysis of "habitus." While acknowledging the importance of these approaches, in this paper I extend this view by suggesting that these instantaneous choices are largely governed by the same cognitive mechanisms that govern emotional response. Drawing on the work of contemporary neurophysiology, pragmatic philosophy and phenomenology, I draw on examples from Japanese, Persian and Javanese.
- Instantaneous choice
- Thin slicing