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Theories of conversation


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This presentation explores these theories of interaction: Grice's maxims, Politeness theory and Accommodation theory.

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Theories of conversation

  1. 1. Grice’s Maxims Accommodation Theory Face Theory Face Theory Developed: Positive Politeness Face Theory Developed: Negative Politeness
  2. 2. Grice’s Maxims Maxim of Quality: Be Truthful Maxim of Quantity Don’t talk for too long or for too little. Maxim of Relation Be Relevant Maxim of Manner • Be Clear
  3. 3. Watch this clip… How are Grice’s maxims broken?
  4. 4. What do these insults reveal? Old Gossip Windbag Talks randomly Liar Unclear weirdo
  5. 5. However
  6. 6. Even if Grice’s maxims are broken Conversation can still be cooperative We say Grice’s maxims are flouted… We often imply meaning.
  7. 7. Sometimes Lies are necessary…../Truth isn’t always welcome. Sarcasm is used… We use hedges. I suppose/I don’t mean to be rude but….. We use euphemisms. We imply meaning. If we don’t this is what happens….
  8. 8. Theories of Conversation
  9. 9. Accommodation Theory Do we adapt our language towards the other person/people? We can diverge towards the other person: we don’t try and adapt our language. We can converge towards the other person: to match our language to the other person.
  10. 10. Converging We can converge upwards-The other person/participants speaks Standard English so you speak Standard English e.g. if you met the Queen or the Prime Minister. We can converge downwards-The other person/participants may use non-standard English and dialects so you use more non-standard English e.g. you move to yorkshire and pick up bairn and other nonstandard words. You want to fit in so you use these words.
  11. 11. Diverging We can diverge upwards. You may start using Standard English if you dislike the other person or disagree with someone’s opinions. You might move to a different area which has a strong accent/dialect so you deliberately use Standard English. We can diverge downwards. You may be around others who use Standard English. You want to keep your identity and so you use non-standard English/ nonstandard dialects e.g. Alan Sugar still uses the Cockney Dialect amongst business people, in the boardroom and house of lords.
  12. 12. What do the following spoken features suggest? Mirroring Interruptions Overlaps Emphatic Stress
  13. 13. How could you turn these into hints? You smell/The house smells. I want to leave. It tastes disgusting. Buy me a drink. It’s rubbish.
  14. 14. Face Theory We present ‘a face’ in every conversation. We try and support each other and ‘play along’. Facework: The way speakers protect, support or even challenge other people’s faces.
  15. 15. Positive Face Need Positive Face Need is the need to be accepted and liked. Positive Politeness-Appealing to someone’s positive face i.e. showing you like the person and that you accept them. Strategy 1: Using terms of endearment like “love, duck, dear, darling, honey”. Strategy 2: Using slang/dialect/non-standard forms: “Give us a cuppa”. Often used between people of equal social standing.
  16. 16. Negative Face Need Negative Face Need is the need to be respected and independent. Negative Politeness-Recognising the independence and status of the person you are speaking to. Strategy 1: Hedges/expressing pessimism “I don’t mean to be rude but…”/ I don’t suppose I could have a drink… Strategy 2: Acknowledging you are imposing: “sorry to trouble you…” Strategy 3: Being polite Excuse me/Please/thank you and using titles Mr/Mrs/Miss.
  17. 17. Face Threatening Acts An act that threatens someone’s positive face needs or negative face needs. All positive politeness strategies (strategies that close the social distance) threatens negative face needs-the need to be independent. All Negative Politeness strategies (strategies that creates the social distance and respects the independence) threatens the positive face needs-the need to be accepted and liked.