PragmaticsWhen a diplomat says yes, he means ‘perhaps’; When he says perhaps, he means ‘no’; When he says no, he is not a diplomat. When a lady says no, she means perhaps. When she says perhaps, she means yes. But when she says yes, she is no lady.
Pragmatics• is concerned with our understanding of language in context.• Two kinds of contexts are relevant.• linguistic context—the discourse that precedes the phrase or sentence to be interpreted;• situational context—virtually everything nonlinguistic in the environment of the speaker.
Pragmatics• Speech act theory (J. L. Austin, John R. Searle)• Paul Grice’s theory of conversational implicatures• Politeness theory (Penelope Brown and Stephen C. Levinson, Geoffrey Leech)
Pragmatics deals with facts about• the objective facts of the utterance (the speaker, when, where)• the speakers intentions (what language, what meaning, whom he refer to, whether a pronoun is used demonstratively or anaphorically, what he intends to achieve by saying sg.)• beliefs of the speaker and those to whom he speaks, and the conversation they are engaged in; what beliefs do they share; what is the focus of the conversation, what are they talking about.• relevant social institutions (promising, marriage ceremonies, courtroom procedure)
Pragmatics studies• the ways in which context contributes to meaning• how the transmission of meaning depends not only on the linguistic knowledge (e.g. grammar, lexicon) of the speaker and listener, but also on the context of the utterance, knowledge about the status of those involved, the inferred intent of the speaker• how language users are able to overcome apparent ambiguity.
Pragmatics is the study of• the speakers meaning, on what the speakers intentions and beliefs are.• speech act theory• the meaning in context, and the influence that a given context can have on the message.• implicatures, i.e. the things that are communicated even though they are not explicitly expressed.• relative distance, both social and physical, between speakers in order to understand what determines the choice of what is said and what is not said.
Pragmatics• deals with utterances, by which we will mean specific events, the intentional acts of speakers at times and places, typically involving language.• the branch of linguistics which deals with the study of meaning, its transmission of words by manner, place, time, etc.• the study of "how to do things with words" (the name of a well known book by the philosopher J.L. Austin), or perhaps "how people do things with words" (to be more descriptive about it).
Speech acts• People use language to accomplish certain kinds of acts, broadly known as speech acts,• distinct from physical acts (drinking a glass of water), or mental acts (thinking about drinking a glass of water).• Speech acts: asking for a glass of water, promising to drink a glass of water, threatening to drink a glass of water, ordering someone to drink a glass of water.• direct• indirect
Examples of speech acts• Typical:• Greeting, apologizing, describing something, asking a question, making a request, giving an order, or making a promise• Watch out, the ground is slippery (performs the speech act of warning)• I will try my best to be at home for dinner (performs the speech act of promising)• Ladies and gentlemen, please give me your attention (requests the audience to be quiet)• Race with me to that building over there! (challenges)
Speech acts• Direct speech acts• Indirect speech acts
Direct Speech ActsSpeech Sentence Function ExamplesAct Type "Jenny got an A on the conveys information;Assertion Declarative test" is true or false " Did Jenny get an A onQuestion Interrogative elicits information the test?"Orders and causes others to "Get an A on the test!" ImperativeRequests behave in certain ways
Did Jenny get an A on the test?• Do you know if Jenny got an A on the test?1. Yes, I do (uncooperative answer in actual social life, but Im not necessarily going to tell you".2. Yes, she did3. No, she only got a B• 2-3: the reply is directed to the speech act meaning, not the literal meaning.• Indirect:• Id like to know if Jenny got an A on the test. I wonder whether Jenny got an A on the test.
Direct request: (Please) close the window• Conventional indirect requests• Questions• Could you close the window? Would you mind closing the window?• assertions I would like you to close the window.• complaints, meant as an indirect request for action The window is still open! I must have asked you a hundred times to keep that window closed!
Indirect speech acts• commonly used to reject proposals and to make requests• "Would you like to meet me for coffee?"• "I have class."• The second speaker used an indirect speech act to reject the proposal.
Speech acts• A) Locutionary: saying a sentence with a specific meaning.• B) Illocutionary: the intent that the speaker has while saying the sentence.• C) Perlocutionary: the result achieved by the sentence.
J. L. Austin (1911-1960) • a British philosopher of language • widely associated with the concept of the speech act and the idea that speech is itself a form of action. • How to Do Things With Words. Oxford: Clarendon, 1962, (Written version of Austins William James Lectures delivered at Harvard in 1955)
John Searle (born 1932) • American philosopher • In his book Speech Acts (1969), gives an account of so-called ‘illocutionary acts’, which Austin had introduced in How to Do Things with Words (1962)
John Searle• Speech Acts, Cambridge University Press 1969,• "Indirect speech acts." In Syntax and Semantics, 3: Speech Acts, ed. P. Cole & J. L. Morgan, pp. 59–82. New York: Academic Press. (1975). Reprinted in Pragmatics: A Reader, ed. S. Davis, pp. 265–277. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (1991)
SPEECH ACT ACCORDING TO SEARLE• to understand language one must understand the speaker’s intention.• Since language is intentional behavior, it should be treated like a form of action. statements as speech acts.• The speech act is the basic unit of language used to express meaning, an utterance that expresses an intention.• Normally, it is a sentence, but it can be a word or phrase as long as it follows the rules necessary to accomplish the intention.• When one speaks, one performs an act.• understanding the speaker’s intention is essential to capture the meaning.
Classification of illocutionary speech acts according to Searle (1975)• assertives = speech acts that commit a speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition• directives = speech acts that are to cause the hearer to take a particular action, e.g. requests, commands and advice• commissives = speech acts that commit a speaker to some future action, e.g. promises and oaths• expressives = speech acts that expresses on the speakers attitudes and emotions towards the proposition, e.g. congratulations, excuses and thanks• declarations = speech acts that change the reality in accord with the proposition of the declaration, e.g. baptisms, pronouncing someone guilty or pronouncing someone husband and wife
Four types of speech act ACCORDING TO SEARLE:• utterance acts• propositional acts (referring is a type of propositional act)• illocutionary acts (promises, questions and commands)• perlocutionary acts (can be used to elicit some behavioral response from the listener)
Paul Grice’s theory ofconversational implicatures
Paul Grice (1913–1988)• a British-educated philosopher of language, who spent the final two decades of his career in the United States• best known in the philosophy of language for introducing the term “implicature,” and his theory of conversational implicatures• The Gricean Maxims (four Maxims of Quality, Quantity, Relevance and Manner), or The Cooperative Principle
Paul Grice (1913–1988)• was the first to systematically study cases in which what a speaker means differs from what the sentence used by the speaker means• What is said has been widely identified with the literal content of the utterance;• What is implicated, the implicature, with the non-literal, what it is (intentionally) communicated, but not said, by the speaker.• The study of such conversational implicatures is the core of Grices influential theory.
Alan: Are you going to Pauls party?Barb: I have to work.
Alan: Are you going to Pauls party?Barb: I have to work.• .• Barb did not say that she is not going, she implied it.• Grice introduced the technical terms implicate and implicature for the case in which what the speaker said is distinct from what the speaker thereby meant (implied, or suggested).• Barb implicated that she is not going; that she is not going was her implicature.• Implicating is what Searle (1975: 265–6) called an indirect speech act.• Barb performed one speech act (meaning that she is not going) by performing another (saying that she has to work).
Implicatures• Alice: Bill is not present.• Carol: Bill has a cold.• I ask you to lunch.• You reply, “I have a one oclock class Im not prepared for.”
Implicatures• Alice: Bill is not present.• Carol: Bill has a cold.• Implicature: the cold is a possible reason, for Bills absence• Carols comment is not cooperative — does not contribute to the conversation — unless her point is that Bills cold is or might be the reason for his absence.
Implicatures• I ask you to lunch.• You reply, “I have a one oclock class Im not prepared for.”• You have conveyed to me that you will not be coming to lunch, although you havent literally said so.• the need to prepare your class → you are not coming to lunch for that reason
Conversational implicatures• things that a hearer can work out from the way something was said rather than what was said.“Could you close the door?”1. question – 2. request1. “Yes”2. the non-linguistic act of closing the door• 2. the speaker used a form of words that is conventionally a question, the hearer can infer that the speaker is making a request.
Paul Grice: The cooperative principle• The assumption that participants in a conversation normally attempt to be informative, truthful, relevant, and clear.• "Make your contribution such as it is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged.”• Introduced in 1975 (1989):• Paul Grice, "Logic and Conversation," 1975. Reprinted in Studies in the Way of Words. Harvard Univ. Press, 1989.• describes the commonly accepted traits of successful cooperative communication
Paul Grice: the Cooperative Principle or the Gricean (Conversational) Maxims• (1) The maxim of quality. Speakers contributions ought to be true.• (2) The maxim of quantity. Speakers contributions should be as informative as required; not saying either too little or too much.• (3) The maxim of relevance. Contributions should relate to the purposes of the exchange.• (4) The maxim of manner. Contributions should be perspicuous -- in particular, they should be orderly and brief, avoiding obscurity and ambiguity.
Maxim of Quality: Truth– (Supermaxim): Try to make your contribution one that is true.– (Submaxims): • Do not say what you believe to be false. • Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.
Maxim of Quantity: Information– Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purposes of the exchange).– Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.
Maxim of Manner: Clarity– (Supermaxim): Be perspicuous.– (Submaxims): • Avoid obscurity of expression. • Avoid ambiguity. • Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity). • Be orderly. • Frame whatever you say in the form most suitable for any reply that would be regarded as appropriate; or, facilitate in your form of expression the appropriate reply
The maxim of quantity• Parent: Did you finish your homework?• Child: I finished my algebra.• Parent: Well, get busy and finish your English, too!• Conclusions to be drawn??• violate" or "flout" these maxims.
The maxim of quantity• Parent: Did you finish your homework?• Child: I finished my algebra.• Parent: Well, get busy and finish your English, too!• Conclusions to be drawn??• violate" or "flout" these maxims.
Which maxims have been violated?Polonius: What do you read, my lord?Hamlet: Words, words, words.Polonius: What is the matter, my lord?Hamlet: Between who?Polonius: I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.Hamlet: Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue says here that old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams: all which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down; for yourself, sir, should grow old as I am, if like a crab you could go backward. (Hamlet, Act II, Scene II)
"Can you pass the salt?"• Which maxim has been violated?
"Can you pass the salt?"• if answered literally, would force the responder into stating the obvious, also a vio- lation of the maxim of quantity.• Which maxim has been violated?
The cooperative principle• goes both ways:• speakers (generally) observe the cooperative principle,• and listeners (generally) assume that speakers are observing it.• meanings not explicitly conveyed in what is said, but that can be inferred.• possibility of implicatures
Criticism of the Cooperative Principle• cooperative conversation, as with most social behavior, is culturally determined, and the Cooperative Principle cannot be universally applied due to intercultural differences.• the Malagasy are reluctant to share information and flout the Maxim of Quantity by evading direct questions and replying on incomplete answers because of the risk of losing face by committing oneself to the truth of the information, as well as the fact that having information is a form of prestige.• The Malagasy speakers choose not to be cooperative, valuing the prestige of information ownership more highly.
Implicatures• deductions that are not made strictly on the basis of the content expressed in the discourse.• made in accordance with the conversational maxims, taking into account both the linguistic meaning of the utterance as well as the particular circumstances in which the utterance is made.• Speaker A: Smith doesnt have any girlfriends these days.• speaker B: Hes been driving over to the West End a lot lately.
presuppositions• Situations that must exist for utterances to be appropriate1. I am sorry that the team lost.2. Have you stopped hugging your border collie?3. The river Avon runs through Stratford.• The presuppositions prevent violations of the maxim of relevance.
presuppositions• Situations that must exist for utterances to be appropriate• For sentences like I am sorry that the team lost to be relevant, it must be true that "the team lost.“are called Questions like Have you stopped hugging your border collie? presuppose that you hugged your border collie, and statements like The river Avon runs through Stratford presuppose the existence of the river and the town. The presuppositions prevent violations of the maxim of relevance.
Lewis Carroll: Alices Adventures in Wonderland"Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly."Ive had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended tone, "so I cant take more.""You mean you cant take less," said the Hatter: "Its very easy to take more than nothing."
Presupposition??• Take some more tea• Have another beer
Presupposition??• Take some more tea• Have another beer• the presupposition that one has already had some.
Politeness theory• Robin Lakoff• Penelope Brown, and Stephen C. Levinson• Geoffrey Leech
Robin Lakoff• Lakoff R. (1973) The logic of Politeness; or minding your ps and qs. Papers from the 9th Regional Meeting, Chicago Linguistics Society. Chicago: Chicago Linguistics Society• Lakoff R. in Language and Women’s Place. New York: Harper & Row (1975):• Womens language is characterized by formal and deference politeness, whereas men’s language is exemplified by camaraderie
Robin Lakoff: Politeness Principle• (three maxims that are usually followed in interaction)1.formal politeness (not imposing on others)2.informal politeness (giving options)3.intimate politeness (striving to make the addressee feel good)
Politeness theory• is the theory that accounts for the redressing of the affronts to face posed by face-threatening acts to addressees.• first formulated in 1978 by Brown, Penelope and Stephen C. Levinson: Universals in Language Usage: Politeness Phenomena, pp 56-289 in Goody, Esther [ed] Questions and Politeness. Cambridge University Press.• The first part is their fundamental theory concerning the nature of ‘politeness’ and how it functions in interaction. The second part is a list of ‘politeness’ strategies with examples from three languages: English, Tzeltal, and Tamil.• Brown, Penelope and Stephen C. Levinson, 1987. Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brown, Penelope and Levinson, Stephen (1978): Universals in Language Usage: Politeness Phenomena.• introduce the notion of ‘face’ in order to illustrate ‘politeness’ in the broad sense. That is to say, all interactants have an interest in maintaining two types of ‘face’ during interaction: ‘positive face’ and ‘negative face’.• ‘positive face’: the positive and consistent image people have of themselves, and their desire for approval.• ‘negative face’ is “the basic claim to territories, personal preserves, and rights to non-distraction” (p. 61).• Utilising this notion of ‘face’, ‘politeness’ is regarded as having a dual nature: ‘positive politeness’ and ‘negative politeness’.
Positive and Negative Face• Face is the public self image that every adult tries to project.• Positive Face: desires to be liked, admired, ratified, and related to positively,• Negative Face: the desire not to be imposed upon,• Positive Face refers to ones self-esteem,• Negative Face refers to ones freedom to act.• The two aspects of face are the basic wants in any social interaction, and so during any social interaction, cooperation is needed amongst the participants to maintain each others faces.
Politeness• is the expression of the speakers’ intention to mitigate face threats carried by certain face threatening acts toward another (Mills, Sara. 2003. Gender and Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 6)• Being polite consists of attempting to save face for another.
Face-Threatening Acts (FTA-s)• According to Brown and Levinson, positive and negative face exist universally in human culture.• A face threatening act is an act that inherently damages the face of the adresser or the speaker by acting in opposition to the wants and desires of the other.• positive face is threaten by being ignored.• negative face is threaten by being imposed on.
Positive politeness vs. Negative politeness• ‘Positive politeness’ is expressed by satisfying ‘positive face’ in two ways:1) by indicating similarities amongst interactants;2) by expressing an appreciation of the interlocutor’s self-image.• ‘Negative politeness’ can also be expressed in two ways:1) by saving the interlocutor’s ‘face’ (either ‘negative’ or ‘positive’) by mitigating face threatening acts (hereafter FTAs), such as advice- giving and disapproval;2) by satisfying ‘negative face’ by indicating respect for the addressee’s right not to be imposed on.• ‘politeness’ is expressed not only to minimise FTAs, but also to satisfy the interactants’ face regardless of whether an FTA occurs or not.
Negative Face Threatening Acts• Negative face is threatened when an individual does not avoid or intend to avoid the obstruction of their interlocutors freedom of action.• It can cause damage to either the speaker or the hearer, and makes the one of the interlocutors submit their will to the other.• Freedom of choice and action are impeded when negative face is threatened.Damage to the HearerDamage to the Speaker
Damage to the Hearer• An act that affirms or denies a future act of the hearer creates pressure on the hearer to either perform or not perform the act. Examples: orders, requests, suggestions, advice, remindings, threats, or warnings.• An act that expresses the speaker’s sentiments of the hearer or the hearer’s belongings. Examples: compliments, expressions of envy or admiration, or expressions of strong negative emotion toward the hearer (e.g. hatred, anger, lust).• An act that expresses some positive future act of the speaker toward the hearer. In doing so, pressure has been put on the hearer to accept or reject the act and possibly incur a debt. Examples: offers, and promises.
Damage to the Speaker• An act that shows that the speaker is succumbing to the power of the hearer. Expressing thanks Accepting a thank you or apology Excuses Acceptance of offers A response to the hearer’s violation of social etiquette The speaker commits himself to something he does not want to do
Positive Face Threatening Acts• the speaker or hearer does not care about their interactor’s feelings, wants, or does not want what the other wants.• Positive face threatening acts can also cause damage to the speaker or the hearer.• When an individual is forced to be separated from others so that their well being is treated less importantly, positive face is threatened.Damage to the HearerDamage to the Speaker
Damage to the Hearer• An act that expresses the speaker’s negative assessment of the hearer’s positive face or an element of his/her positive face.1. The speaker indicates that he dislikes some aspect of the hearer’s possessions, desires, or personal attributes.2. The speaker expresses disapproval by stating or implying that the hearer is wrong, irrational, or misguided. expressions of disapproval (e.g. insults, accusations, complaints), contradictions, disagreements, challenges.
Damage to the Hearer• An act that expresses the speaker’s indifference toward the addressee’s positive face.• The addressee might be embarrassed for or fear the speaker.• Examples: excessively emotional expressions.• The speaker indicates that he doesn’t have the same values or fears as the hearer• Examples: disrespect, mention of topics which are inappropriate in general or in the context.• The speaker indicates that he is willing to disregard the emotional well being of the hearer.• Examples: belittling or boasting.
Damage to the Hearer• The speaker increases the possibility that a face-threatening act will occur. This situation is created when a topic is brought up by the speaker that is a sensitive societal subject.• Examples: topics that relate to politics, race, religion.• The speaker indicates that he is indifferent to the positive face wants of the hearer. This is most often expressed in obvious non- cooperative behavior.• Examples: interrupting, non-sequiturs.• The speaker misidentifies the hearer in an offensive or embarrassing way. This may occur either accidentally or intentionally. Generally, this refers to the misuse of address terms in relation to status, gender, or age.• Example: Addressing a young woman as "ma’am" instead of "miss."
Damage to the Speaker• An act that shows that the speaker is in some sense wrong, and unable to control himself. Apologies (speaker is damaging his own act by admitting that he regrets one of his previous acts) Acceptance of a compliment Inability to control one’s physical self Inability to control one’s emotional self Self-humiliation Confessions
Bald On-record Strategies• Bald on-record strategies usually do not attempt to minimize the threat to the hearer’s face, although there are ways that bald on-record politeness can be used in trying to minimilize FTAs implicitly. Often using such a strategy will shock or embarrass the addressee, and so this strategy is most often utilized in situations where the speaker has a close relationship with the audience, such as family or close friends. Great urgency or desperation Watch out! Speaking as if great efficiency is necessary Hear me out:... Task-oriented Pass me the hammer. Little or no desire to maintain someones face Dont forget to clean the blinds! Doing the FTA is in the interest of the hearer Your headlights are on!• Instances in which the threat is minimized implicitly Welcomes Come in. Offers Leave it, Ill clean up later. Eat!
Positive Politeness Strategies•Attend to H’s interests, needs, wants•You look sad. Can I do anything?•Use solidarity in-group identity markers•Heh, mate, can you lend me a dollar?•Be optimistic•I’ll just come along, if you don’t mind.•Include both speaker (S) and hearer (H) in activity•If we help each other, I guess, we’ll both sink or swim in this course.•Offer or promise•If you wash the dishes, I’ll vacuum the floor.•Exaggerate interest in H and his interests•That’s a nice haircut you got; where did you get it?•Avoid Disagreement•Yes, it’s rather long; not short certainly.•Joke•Wow, that’s a whopper!
Negative Politeness Strategies• Be indirect• Would you know where Oxford Street is?• Use hedges or questions• Perhaps, he might have taken it, maybe. Could you please pass the rice?• Be pessimistic• You couldn’t find your way to lending me a thousand dollars, could you?• Minimize the imposition• It’s not too much out of your way, just a couple of blocks.• Use obviating structures, like nominalizations, passives, or statements of general rules• I hope offense will not be taken. Visitors sign the ledger. Spitting will not be tolerated.• Apologize• I’m sorry; it’s a lot to ask, but can you lend me a thousand dollars?• Use plural pronouns• We regret to inform you. (Brown and Levinson)
Off-record (indirect) Strategies• This strategy uses indirect language and removes the speaker from the potential to be imposing.• a speaker using the indirect strategy might merely say “wow, it’s getting cold in here” insinuating that it would be nice if the listener would get up and turn up the thermostat without directly asking the listener to do so.
Payoffs Associated with Each Strategy Bald on record Positive Politeness Negative Politeness Off record Don’t Do the FTA
Geoffrey Leech (1936) • was Professor of Linguistics and Modern English Language at Lancaster University from 1974 to 2002. • since 2002 has been Emeritus Professor in the Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University.
Geoffrey Leech: Politeness maxims (in Principles of Pragmatics, 1983)1. tact,2. generosity,3. approbation,4. modesty,5. agreement,6. sympathy• vary from culture to culture: what may be considered polite in one culture may be strange or downright rude in another
Social distance between parties (symmetric relation)– Distinguish kin or friend from a stranger with whom you may be of the same social status, but who is still separated by social distance– Different FTAs are used depending on the social distance between interlocutors– Example: We may use less elaborate positive strategies or we may choose to use positive rather than negative politeness when speaking with family– Brown and Levinson, Leech
Power relations between parties (asymmetric relation)– we are inclined to speak to our social equals differently than those whose status is higher or lower than our own in a given situation– Example: a professor is working in her office and people are being very loud and disruptive in the next room– Brown and Levinson, Leech
Power relations between parties – (asymmetric relation) we are inclined to speak to our social equals differently than those whose status is higher or lower than our own in a given situation – Example: If a professor is working in her office and people are being very loud and disruptive in the next room, she will go over there and tell them to be quiet but the way she does it will differ depending on who it is – If they are students she will use the bald on-record strategy to make sure there is no confusion in what she is asking – Example: “Stop talking so loud!” – If they are colleagues she will claim common ground with them using the positive politeness strategy or frame an indirect request for them to stop talking – Example: “I’m working on a lecture and it’s really hard to concentrate with all this noise.” – If they are really high status directors of the department she may end up saying nothing at all or apologize for interrupting them – Example: No FTA• Brown and Levinson, Leech
Power relations between parties (asymmetric relation)– Some impositions are greater than others. Highly imposing acts like requests demand more redress to mitigate their increased threat level.– Brown and Levinson, Leech
Thank you for your attention! Anna T. Litovkina email@example.com
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