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Lecture 8Language and its user: pragmatics An outline

Whats pragmatics? (a) Pragmatics studies the context-dependent aspects of verbal communication and comprehension. (b) Pragmatics studies the role of non-linguistic factors in verbal communication and comprehension.

When does it become an independent science?

Semantics and pragmatics Two distinct but complementary disciplines Semantics is concerned with the cognitive meaning of sentences, the meaning that is context-free; Pragmatics is concerned with the meaning of speech acts, the meaning that is context-dependent. Semantics reveals the sentence meaning of dyadic relation, answers the question what does x mean?; while pragmatics reveals the speakers meaning of triadic relation, answers the question what do you mean by x? What do you mean by a fool?

Some Chinese idioms

What does pragmatics study? Deixis Conversational implicature Presupposition Speech act Conversational structure

Deixis Charles Fillmore 1971; S. Levinson 1983; J. Saeed 1997 Person deixis Time deixis Place (spatial) deixis Discourse (textual) deixis Social deixis

Examples You, you and you, come over here. He does not like that. On the house tomorrow. Put that here and then move this over there.

Discourse deixis Here our argument runs into some difficulties. At this point we have to look back to our initial premise.

Social deixis tu / vous distinction in European languages tu / vous in French du / Sie in German tu / usted in Spanish

Asian languages like Japanese, Korean and Balinese have much richer systems for grammaticalizing social relations. (Saeed 1997:180)

Sentence meaning and speakers meaning the central problem for pragmatics is that the meaning a speaker conveys by uttering a sentence on a particular occasion typically goes well beyond the (context-independent) linguistic meaning assigned to that sentence by the grammar. One way of putting this is to say that sentence meaning typically underdetermines speakers meaning. some of the many ways in which speakers meaning can go beyond sentence meaning, and the goal of pragmatics should be to explain how the gap between sentence meaning and speakers meaning is bridged

Communicative competence Subcomponents/subcompetences: Canale and Swain (1980): grammatical competence strategic competence sociocultural competence

Canale (1983): + discourse competence

Celce-Murcia & Drnyei +actional competence (pragmatic c.) (1995)

Linguistic competence: competence in producing wellformed sentences and to recognize well-formed as well as ill-formed sentences. Sub-subcompetences: phonological, grammatical, lexical and phraseological competence. Discourse competence concerns the selection, sequencing and arrangement of words, structures, sentences and utterances to achieve a unified spoken or written text. Actional competence: competence in conveying and understanding communicative intent, that is, matching actional intent with linguistic form. Sociocultural competence: the speakers knowledge of how to express messages appropriately within the overall social and cultural context of communication, in accordance with the pragmatic factors related to variation in language use. Strategic competence: knowledge of communicative strategies and how to use them.

Grices theory 1975, Logic and conversation

The cooperative principles Quantity; 1. Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purposes of the exchange). 2. Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

Quality: Supermaxim: 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.

Relation: 1. Be relevant.

Manner: Supermaxim: Be perspicuous 1. Avoid obscurity of expression. 2. Avoid ambiguity. 3. Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity) 4. Be orderly.

The observation and flout of the CP: Jenny Thomas(1995: 72) follow/fulfill non-observance Flouting Violating Infringing opting-out Suspending

Pragmatic implicature

conversational implicature

conventional implicature

non-conventional implicature

generalized implicature

particularized implicature

The calculation of pragmatic implicature Is Rome the capital of Romania? Yes, and then Beirut is the capital of Peru.

Properties of conversational implicature Cancelability Non-detachability Calculability Non-conventionality Indeterminacy

Tautology Boys are boys. History is history; friendship is friendship.

Politeness Principles Leech (1983) argues that there is a Politeness Principle that works in conjunction with the Co-operative Principle, and identifies six associated politeness maxims

The politeness principles A. a. b.

(Tact Maxim) (Generosity Maxim)a. b.


C a. b.

(Approbation Maxim): (Modesty Maxim)a. b.


E a. b.

(Agreement Maxim): (Sympathy Maxim):

F a. b.

Maxim1. The tact maxim 2. The generosity maxim 3. The approbatio n maxim 4. The modesty maxim. 5. The agreement maxim. 6. The sympathy maxim.

Where FoundIn impositives and commisives In impositives and commissives. In expressives and assertives. In expressives and assertives. In assertives.

DescriptionThe speaker minimizes the cost (and correspondingly maximizes the benefit) to the listener . The speaker minimizes the benefit (and correspondingly maximizes the cost) to herself. The speaker minimizes dispraise (and correspondingly maximizes praise) of the listener. The speaker minimizes praise (and correspondingly maximizes dispraise) of herself. The speaker minimizes disagreement (and correspondingly maximizes agreement) between herself and the listener. The speaker minimizes antipathy (and correspondingly maximizes sympathy) between herself and the listener.

In assertives.

Gu (1990): Politeness in Chinese 1. THE SELF-DENIGRATION MAXIM a. denigrate self b. elevate other

2. THE ADDRESS MAXIM a. address your interlocutor with an appropriate address term

3. THE TACT MAXIM (in impositives) a. At the motivational level, minimize cost to other b. At the conversational level, maximize benefit received

4. THE GENEROSITY MAXIM (in commissives) a. At the motivational level, maximize benefit to other b. At the conversational level, minimize cost to self

Sociopragmatic Interactional Principles (SIPs) SIPs are a development of Leech's (1983) notion of politeness maxims and Kim's (1994) work on conversational/interactive constraints. Kim, Sharkey and Singelis (1994: 119) define interactive constraints as follows: 'fundamental concerns regarding the manner in which a message is constructed. They tend to affect the general character of every conversation one engages in, and an individual's conversational style in general.'

Kims (1994) Research into Interactional Constraints 1 . concern to avoid hurting the hearers feelings (cf. Brown and Levinson's, 1987, positive face of hearer) 2. concern to avoid imposition (cf. Brown and Levinson's, 1987, negative face of hearer) 3. concern to avoid negative evaluation by the hearer (cf. Brown and Levinson's, 1987, positive face of speaker) 4. concern for clarity (cf. Grice's, 1989, Maxim of Manner) 5. concern for effectiveness (cf. Canary and Spitzberg's, 1989, goal achievement/task accomplishment)

Communicative Goal resolution of the problem/achievement of own (taskrelated) goal minimisation of bother/inconvenience to oneself minimisation of bother/inconvenience to the other person maintenance or enhancement of ones own face maintenance or enhancement of the other persons face minimisation of conflict and maintenance of smooth relations acknowledgement of ones own rights acknowledgement of the other persons rights fulfilment of ones own obligations fulfilment by the other person of their obligations

Communicative Style preference for clarity and directness compared with preference for hinting and indirectness preference for warmth and friendliness compared with preference for restraint and respectfulness preference for light-heartedness and humor compared with preference for seriousness

Social distance

The face theory

Face Face wants Face threatening act Face saving act

'Face' Abstract face is a valuable commodity which I can lose or save: "Face, the public self-image that every member [person] wants to claim for himself, consisting in two related aspects: a. Negative face: the basic claim to territories, personal preserves, rights to non-distraction - i.e. to freedom of action and freedom from imposition b. Positive face: the positive consistent self-image or personality (crucially including the desire that this selfimage be appreciated and approved of) claimed." (Brown and Levinson 1987: 61)

It's my public 'face', and need not be true to my real personality or abilities. I have to claim my 'face', because it depends on your respect for my rights (negative) and for me (positive). You can easily damage my 'face' by rejecting my claim. But I can damage yours equally easily; so we all benefit from respecting each others 'faces': Do to others as you would like them to do to you. (NB This is basic morality.) Why FACE? Because: your face shows what you think of my 'face' (Ok, aggression, contempt); my face shows how I react to your treatment of me (Ok, annoyance, embarrassment).

Threats to face and politeness (See Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson, Politeness, based on Goffman's theory of 'face'.) My intended behaviour can threaten your face: asking you for a service threatens your negativ


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