Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of the Arts


Art and Design

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Anne Betty J. Weinshenker

Committee Member

Susi Colin

Committee Member

Longxing Wei


There is a correspondence between the mechanism of visual communication in Duchamp’s art and the principles of pragmatics in linguistics. The process from Duchamp’s intended meaning encoded in his art to the correct interpretation on the part of the addressee is similar to the process in which intended meaning encoded in speech being accurately decoded by the addressee. This is because the correct interpretation in both processes involves inferences. Be it language or art, to fully understand the intended meaning of a statement, an addressee must first understand the natural meaning known as entailment; and subsequently uncover the unnatural, but intended, meaning known as implicature. Uncovering the implicature requires some inferences to be drawn. For addresser to make sure that the intended but implied meaning will be successfully inferred and for addressee to draw appropriate inferences, mutually shared contextual knowledge is required. As a result, the theoretical explanations from the perspective of pragmatics used to account for language use and its comprehension are also adequately applicable to the interpretation of art.

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