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Pragmatics 4
The difference between what somebody says and what he implies or
Outline: A. Recap: Indirect SA suggests.
B. H.P. Grice (1975) "Logic and Conversation" what somebody says = the conventional/explicit meaning
Implicatures of the words uttered, derivable from the sense of the
The cooperative principle & conversational words and the way syntax combines them (referring to an
maxims entity and predicating something of it).
C. Hedges
D. Non-observance of the maxims what is implied = depends on the Speaker's intentions,
the evaluation of the context, etc.
A. Introduction
(2) A: How is John doing?
Indirectness in language - speakers say one thing and mean B: Well he likes his new colleagues and he hasn't been to prison yet.
that thing but also something else
what A says:............................................................................
Indirect SA - Speech acts in which one SA is performed through another what is implied: .................................................................

(1) A: I am very thirsty. [looking expectantly at the hearer] (3) A: What is your hamburger like?
Direct SA: ..... B: A hamburger is a hamburger.
Indirect SA: ....

The theory of Indirect Speech Acts developed by Searle tells us how the what B says:............................................................................
Speaker can formulate SA indirectly (by what mechanisms) what is implied: .................................................................

Requests: The implicit meaning in (2) and (3) are called by Grice implicatures
- stating / questioning whether the felicity conditions obtain
- asking whether the Hearer wants the Speaker to perform an action Definition of implicature: Noveck (2001): The implicature is an 'inference
- suggesting it is reasonable for the H to perform an act that consists in attributing to a speaker an implicit meaning that goes
B. H.P. Grice (1975) "Logic and Conversation" beyond the explicit meaning of an utterance.'
Grice's theory of conversation explains the way in which the Hearer is able
to get to the implicit meaning suggested by the Speaker. => implicatures are a special type of inferences.
Inference = deduction based on evidence
Notions introduced by Grice: Implicatures, the cooperative principle of
conversation & conversational maxims (3') a. John is very pale and groans. His co-workers infer that he is
feeling sick.
B. Implicatures

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b. Mary's husband is never late for dinner. He is late today so Mary can Speakers expect a certain amount of information to be given by their
infer that something urgent occurred at work. interlocutors in conversation. => speakers are supposed to be cooperative
in conversation
C. The cooperative principle

This idea can be stated as a cooperative principle of conversation:


Implicatures are inferences through which Hs get to the meaning implied
(formulated by Paul Grice 1975 Logic and conversation)
by Ss rather than the literal meaning.

In order to produce implicatures, a principle of cooperation between the


speaker and the hearer must be in operation.

(5) The cooperative principle of conversation


Our conversations are not made up of disconnected remarks (that would be
irrational), but they seem to follow certain common goals.
Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at
Each participant recognizes some common purpose of the conversation.
which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange
This purpose may be fixed from the start or may develop during the
in which you are engaged.
exchange.

The principle can be reformulated as 4 sub-principles or conversational


(4) Situation: woman sitting on a park bench, dog lying in front of the
maxims:
bench, man comes along and sits down on the bench
Man: Does your dog bite?
I. Maxims of Quantity:
Woman: No. 1. Make your contribution as informative as is required for the current
(The man reaches down to pet the dog. The dog bites the man's purposes of the exchange.
hand) 2. Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.
Man: Ouch! You said your dog doesn't bite.
Woman: He doesn't. But that's not my dog. II. Maxims of Quality: Try to make your contribution one that is true.
1. Do not say what you believe to be false.
2. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.
Problem: the man assumed that more was communicated that what was
said. For the man, the woman's answer provides less information than III. Maxim of Relation: Be relevant.
necessary.
IV. Maxims of Manner: Be perspicuous.
1. Avoid obscurity of expression.
2. Avoid ambiguity.

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3. Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity). simply by virtue of being a rational agent. It also has to be noticed that even
4. Be orderly. a conscious breach of the maxims does not signal that they are not active: in
order to violate the maxim of quantity, for example, the speaker must hold
These maxims are assumptions we have when we engage in conversations. an assumption that this maxim should indeed be conformed to.' (Jaszczolt
2006).
We assume people obey these maxims. We assume that:
- people are going to provide an appropriate amount of information Q: Are any maxims more important in conversation than others?
- they are telling the truth
- they are being relevant D. Hedges
- they are being clear
Certain linguistic expressions invoke the maxims, and prove that they are
Observing the maxims S says exactly what s/he means, neither more nor operative in conversation = hedges
less, there is no distinction btw. what is said and what is implied (no
inferential work for H) Can you identify the hedges in the examples below?
(5') A: Where are the car keys?
B: Theyre on the table in the hall. a) Hedges related to the maxim of quantity

The purpose of the talk exchange = maximally effective exchange of (6) To cut a long story short, I ran away.
information.
b) Hedges related to the maxim of quality
talking = a special variety of purposive, rational behaviour, similar to
transactional exchanges in some way. (7) As far as I know, they're married.

Q: Is Grice being prescriptive? Is he saying that the principle of cooperation c) Hedges related to the maxim of relation
and the maxims should always be complied with?
(8) I don't know if this is important, but some of the files are missing.
'...although Grices maxims are formulated as if they were prescriptive laws,
their raison dtre is to spell out the principles that the human mind
naturally follows rather than some social or moral laws that people can d) Hedges related to the maxim of manner
choose to obey. Although it is possible to consciously disobey the maxims
or even overtly opt out of them, the standard presumption in every (9) This may be a bit confused, but I remember being in a car.
conversation is that they do apply. Unless the addressee has clear evidence
of such opting out, he/she assumes that the speaker obeys the maxims Q: What about the hedges in (10)?

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(10) a. I'm not sure this is right, but I heard it was a secret More often than not, people fail to observe the maxims Several ways of
ceremony in Greece. failing to observe a maxim, according to Grice:
b. I won't bore you with the details, but it was a great
1. Violating
experience. 2. Opting out
c. I'm not sure this makes sense, but the car had no lights. 3. Coping with a clash
d. I may be mistaken, but I thought I saw a wedding ring on 4. Flouting => generates implicatures
her finger.
e. This may sound like a dumb question, but whose hand 1. Violating the maxim = "quietly and unostentatiously" => "liable to
writing is this? mislead'
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Observing the CP and the maxims is reasonable (rational) behavior, (10) Husband: Is there another man?
because it is beneficial to both addresser and addressee. Wife: No there isn't another man [there was in fact a woman].
-maxim of quantity is broken
When the maxims are disregarded, this may lead to the additional inferences
2. Opting out = the speaker makes it clear that he does not want to
called implicatures by Grice (to distinguish them from implications in
cooperate or observe the maxim.
formal logic).

(11) A: Is his wife cheating on him?


N.B. There are other maxims as well - e.g. BE POLITE! - they may also
B: I cannot say more/ my lips are sealed.
generate implicatures.

3. Clashes - the speaker has to disobey one of the maxims in order to satisfy
another maxim

E. Non-observance of the maxims


(12) A: Is there a train station nearby?
B: There is one in the city...
There are circumstances where the cooperative principle is not observed
e.g. institutionalized conversations: teacher - student, lawyer - witness =
Q: Why is there a clash between maxims in (12)?
responses are already known => the maxim of .......... is violated.

4. Flouting a maxim
Violations also occur in day-to-day conversation, not only in
institutionalized conversation.

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Flouting a maxim - instances when a S blatantly fails to observe a maxim,


not with any intention of deceiving or misleading, but because the S wishes Quality I
to prompt the H to look for a meaning which is different from, or in addition Irony
to, the expressed meaning (Thomas 1995: 65). (13) On Christmas, an ambulance picks up a drunkard who collapsed on the
sidewalk. Soon the drunkard vomits all over the paramedic.
A flout occurs when a S does not observe a maxim, with the deliberate Paramedic: Great, thats really great! Thats made my Christmas!
intention of generating a conversational implicature and triggering an Implicature:.............................................................................................
inferential process on the part of the H. In such cases, one or several
maxims are exploited Inferences made by Hearer of (13) acc. to the Gricean framework:
i) The paramedic expressed pleasure at having smb vomit over him
H has to think: How can this flout of the maxim X be reconciled with the ii) There is no example in recorded history of people being delighted
assumption that the S is obeying the Conversational Principle? at having smb vomit over them.
iii) I have no reason to believe that the paramedic is trying to deceive
Reasoning: B has violated Maxim X us
B has no reason to opt out of the CP iv) Unless the paramedics utterance is entirely pointless, he must be
=> his violation is only apparent, the S intends to imply trying to convey some other proposition.
something else. v) The most obviously related proposition is the exact opposite of the
one he has expressed.
Steps: A has said that p vi) The paramedic is extremely annoyed at having the drunkard vomit
There is no reason to suppose that A is not observing the over him.
CP
He must think that q (14) Phil to his wife Vivian: You look great, did you lose some weight?
He has done nothing to stop me from thinking that q Vivian: Yes, and it seems to me that you have found it.
-------------------- Implicature:.............................................................................................
He has implicated that q
Metaphors
Implicatures are worked out based on: (15) Woman about ex: In all my greasy past, hes the biggest grease spot.
a) conventional meaning of the words uttered Implicature:.............................................................................................
b) the CP and the maxims
c) context of utterance Inferences made by Hearer of (14) acc. to the Gricean framework:
d) background knowledge i) It is patently false that a man is a grease spot.
e) a-d are known to all participants ii) The wife does not appear to be trying to make us believe that her
ex is a greasy spot.
iii) Unless her U is entirely pointless, she must be trying to convey
some other proposition
4.1. Flouts exploiting the Quality Maxim: S says smth blatantly untrue in iv) This proposition must be somehow related to her U
order to make the hearer draw an implicature

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v) The most obviously related proposition is that, like grease spots, tautologies:
her ex is extremely disgusting. (17) a. Women are women!
Implicature:.............................................................................................
Understatement
b. War is war!
(15') a. Our friend was a little intoxicated when he broke all the Implicature:.............................................................................................
furniture.
Implicature:............................................................................................. Quantity II b) a S gives more information that required

b. The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's (18) A: Would you like some whiskey?
advantage. [the Japanese Emperor informing the Japanese people that Japan B: Whiskey and wine are my favourites.
would surrender at the end of the second world war] Implicature:.............................................................................................

Implicature:............................................................................................. 4.3. Flouts exploiting the Relation Maxim: the response is obviously
irrelevant to the topic (abrupt change of topic, overt failure to address
Hyperbole interlocutors goal in asking a Q)

(15'') The bag weighed a ton! (19) Father to daughter at family dinner: Any news about the SAT
Implicature:............................................................................................. results?
Daughter : Ice-cream anyone?
Quality II Implicature:.............................................................................................

(15''') A: Some people simply cant help hitting the shops every other day (20) Suspicious wife: Why would you smell of Chanel 5?
B: My sisters probably buying something right now! Husband: Im going to turn in. Ive been swamped at the office
[A has no evidence for this single event, the hearer has to assume that the these days.
speaker is getting at some related proposition] Implicature:.............................................................................................

Implicature:............................................................................................. 4.4. Flouts exploiting the Manner Maxim = ambiguity, obscurity, absence
of clarity and brevity - deliberate, that the speaker intends the hearer to
4.2. Flouts exploiting the Quantity Maxims: recognize
Quantity I a) a S gives less information that required. Ambiguity - more than one interpretation is possible - desired effect
(16) Patient: Is he a good man? e.g. in poetry
Wilson: He's a good doctor. (House MD - pilot episode)
Implicature:............................................................................................. (22) a. I sought to tell my love,

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Love that never told can be (adapted from W. Blake) -


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2 interpretations are possible and the poet wants to convey both -
b. A British general captured the town of Sind and reported 5. Other forms of non-observance of the maxims
back in coded language: 'Peccavi'
I have sinned. 5.1. Infringing a maxim: occurs when a S fails to observe the maxim,
I have Sind. (ambiguity) although s/he has no intention of generating an implicature and no intention
of deceiving.
Obscurity - e.g. when speaking in the presence of a child or a third party
and we don't want him/her to understand what we mean, but we want the Generally infringements stem from imperfect linguistic performance (young
Hearer to draw an implicature child, foreigner), impaired L performance (nervousness, drunkenness,
excitement, disability)
(23) Letter from a Romanian living in the Soviet Union to one of his
relatives abroad: 'Things are really going well for us here. We haven't seen (26) Kramer: You let out one emotion, and all the rest will follow. Just like
Mr Carne for a while and Mr Branza has retired.' Andora's box.
Implicature:............................................................................................. Jerry: That was the mother on "Bewitched." I think you mean
"Pandora."
(24) Parents discussing in the presence of a young child who is not Kramer: Yeah, well, she had one too.
allowed to drink Coca-Cola. (deliberate obscurity)
5.2. Suspending a maxim: Under certain circumstances/as part of certain
A: What are we going to buy for drinks tomorrow?
events there is no expectation on the part of any participant that one or
B: You know, the brownish lethal liquid.
several maxims should be observed (and non-fulfillment does not generate
Implicature:.............................................................................................
any implicatures).
Failure to be brief
e.g. funeral orations and obituaries - Maxim of .........
(25) Music reviewer - instead of saying 'The band played X'
poetry - Maxim of .........
'The band produced a series of sounds that corresponded closely with the
telegrams, text messages - Maxim of .........
score of X' (failure to be brief -> the word 'playing' does not apply, the
courts of law - witnesses not expected to volunteer incriminating
performance was deficient)
information - ..Maxim of .........
Implicature:.............................................................................................

To sum up - so far: ways of non-observing the maxims:


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