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date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Communication is a fundamental mechanism for the constitution of the social world. This chapter argues that social communication involves a two-way transmission of information typically using language, in which the sender and receiver of a message collaboratively work together. In this perspective, language is a semiotic tool, a tool with which to create and exchange meaning; it is language use that is central to this process. Based on this fundamental understanding, the chapter describes the grounding model of communication and its social cognitive implications. In this perspective, communication is characterized as a dynamic interplay between common ground—information actually and perceived to be already shared among the communicators—and grounding—the communicators’ coordinated activity for establishing a mutual understanding about new information. When new information is grounded, common ground evolves. The evolution of common ground through communication is traced, and concomitant social cognitive consequences are discussed, not only for the senders and receivers of information, but also for the community of multiple communicators and their culture. The chapter concludes with a reaffirmation of the importance of communication as a fundamental mechanism for social cognition.

Keywords: communication, language, language use, common ground, grounding, coordination, culture, semiotic tool

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