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# conversational implicatures - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

CONVERSATIONAL IMPLICATURES. by Don L. F. Nilsen. CONVERSATIONAL IMPLICATURES. I. Quantity A. Be informative B. Don’t give more information than is required II. Quality A. Don’t lie or mislead B. Don’t make statements unless there is adequate evidence III. Relation

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### CONVERSATIONAL IMPLICATURES

by Don L. F. Nilsen

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I. Quantity

A. Be informative

II. Quality

B. Don’t make statements unless there is adequate evidence

III. Relation

A. Be relevant

IV. Manner

A. Avoid obscurity

B. Avoid ambiguity

C. Be succinct

D. Be orderly

(Grice “Logic and Conversation” 47)

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BILL CLINTON’S VIOLATION OF THE MAXIM OF QUALITY:

QUENTIN TARENTINO’S VIOLATION OF THE MAXIM OF QUANTITY (FROM RESERVOIR DOGS: “LIKE A VIRGIN”):

FOREST GUMP’S FRIEND’S VIOLATION OF THE MAXIM OF RELATION:

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• Geoffrey Leech offers four: “tact,” “generosity,” “approbation” and “irony.”

(Leech 131ff)

• Horn has only two Maxims: “Quantity” and “Relation”

(Horn 15)

• Sperber and Wilson have a minimalistic theory that needs only one concept: “relevance.”

(Sperber and Wilson 161)

• Nilsen and Nilsen also have a minimalistic theory that needs only one concept: “tendency.”

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• Norlich and Clarke (in press) note that conversation has certain purposes. It is designed to be entertaining, humorous, knowledgeable, witty, conspicuous, etc.

(Mey 136)

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• In working with Artificial Intelligence, James Meehan developed a program that understands the elements of a story, and continuously creates new stories on the basis of the original one. Here is one of his stories:

• “One day Joe Bear was hungry. He asked his friend Irving Bird where some honey was. Irving told him there was a beehive in the oak tree. Joe threatened to hit Irving if he didn’t tell him where some honey was.”

(Meehan 217)

• Irving Bird clearly missed the “tendency” of Joe Bear’s statement.

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I. Quantity

A. Be informative: The Eiron (Huckleberry Finn, Bartleby the Scrivner), The Politician (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld)

B. Don’t give more information than is required: The Boor (Ignatius Riley, Confederacy of Dunces)

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• Jacob Mey’s six-year old daughter, Sara, is bouncing a rubber ball at a friend’s house, and it bounces away from her field of vision.

• Mey’s friend says, “Why don’t you look behind Volume 6 of Dostoyevski’s Collected Works?”

• This is too much information, and also too little information.

• For legitimate communication, he should have said something like, “It’s behind one of those fat brown books in the middle of the bottom shelf.”

(Mey 73)

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• SALES CLERK: You’re over 21, aren’t you?

• CUSTOMER: Well, er, yes. My birthday was actually yesterday, and we’re having a party tonight…

• SALES CLERK: May I see your ID?

• VIOLATES RULE ABOUT DEALING WITH AUTHORITIES: “Never volunteer information.”

(Mey 150)

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II. Quality

A. Don’t lie or mislead: The Lover (Casinova, Humbert Humbert, Don Juan), the Politican (Clinton, Nixon), The Trickster (The Fox Who Eats the Gingerbread Man, Little Red Riding Hood’s Wolf, Peter’s Wolf, Tom Sawyer)

B. Don’t make statements unless there is adequate evidence: The Alazon (Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill), The Braggert (the Gingerbread Man), The Pedant

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• Jacob Mey says that readers want to be fooled (up to a certain point).

• Therefore, good authors always have something up their sleeves, and allow their writing to contain, “deliberate omissions, misleading statements, uninformative or disinformative remarks and all sorts of narrative tricks in order to better develop the plot.”

(Mey 78)

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III. Relation

A. Be relevant: Crazy People: Don Quixote

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IV. Manner

A. Avoid obscurity: Animal Farm, Big Brother in 1984, Doublespeak, Fine Print, Newspeak

B. Avoid ambiguity: Prophets, Soothsayers, Witches (3 Witches in Macbeth)

C. Be succinct: The Shaggy Dog Story

D. Be orderly: Alice in Wonderland

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• DOORMAN AT A DISCOTEQUE: “I need to see your ID. It’s the rule.”

• INGER (Jacob Mey’s wife): “But I left it back at the hotel.”

• DOORMAN: “Sorry ma’am, then I can’t let you in.”

• INGER: “But I’m twenty-nine and the mother of four!”

• DOORMAN: “Yes, and I’m the pope’s grandfather and have six kids.”

(Mey 78)

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• In a book entitled, Lectures on Conversation, Harvey Sacks said that conversation is dialogue and that dialogue consists of “adjacency relationships” like the following:

• Openings (Hello-Hello or Excuse me-Yes?)

• Closings (OK?-OK.)

(Mey 141, 146)

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• Hey! Yes?

• You know something? What?

• Excuse me. Sure.

• Guess what. What?

(Levinson 346ff)

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• RESPONSES TO A MARINE OFFICER:

• “Sir, Yes Sir!”

• “UAW! UAW! UAW! (Understood and Acknowledged)

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• What’s the time?

• Twelve noon.

• Time for coffee.

• I haven’t got a watch; sorry.

• How should I know?

• You know bloody well what time it is.

• What did you say?

• What do you mean?

(Tsui 115)

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• AT A DINNER PARTY: It’s getting late, Mildred.

• Are you bored?

• Do you want to go home?

• So?

• Don’t you like my flirting?

• Yes, I need to take my pills.

(Mey 162)

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• Are you doing anything tonight?

• I thought we might catch a movie.

• NOTE: Answering of cell phones in the middle of a conversation is becoming more and more frequent

(Mey 145)

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NORMAL: MARKED

Request Acceptance Refusal

Offer Acceptance Refusal

Assessment Agreement Disagreement

(Levinson 336)

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• Two psychiatrists, Dr. Sapirstein and Dr. Barnstone pass each other in the hallway of their clinic:

• DR. SAPIRSTEIN: You’re fine, how am I?

• DR. BARNSTONE: Thanks, you’re fine too.

(Mey 170)

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• “Call and Response” is an important aspect of the preaching in Black churches.

• “Call and Response is also an aspect of bird language.

• “Call and Response” also occurs in music.

• You can hear it in Webber’s Phantam of the Opera.

• You can also hear it in Bach’s Two Part Inventions.

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• Scandinavian ingressive “ja”

• Japanese ingressive sucking in of their breath sharply

• Through the Mouth (Hissing)

• Through the Nose (Snorting—Mostly Males)

(Mey 166-167)

• Even when people are on the phone, they often smile and gesture.

(Mey 196)

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• Grice’s “Cooperative Principle”

• Leech’s “Politeness Principle”

• Sperber and Wilson’s “Economy Principle”

• NOTE: Polite forms are not economic but are very cooperative.

(Mey 180)

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• MACHO MALE: So I was trying to pick up this chick when…

• FEMINIST FEMALE: Excuse ME. Did I hear that right?

• MACHO MALE: Sorry. I mean woman…

• FEMINIST FEMALE: “PICK UP?”

• MACHO MALE: Sorry. I mean, meet….

(Mey 149)

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• What time is it? Silence. Please tell me what time it is.

• Somebody asks the boss’s wife for a date.

• Silence.

• This is “denied reality.” I don’t believe what I’m hearing, so I won’t respond.

(Mey 158)

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• Because e-mail has no information about body posture, facial expression, etc., e-mailers have to use smileys or emoticons.

(Mey 148)

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• Punctuation: . (unmarked)-- , ! ? (marked)

• Telegrams, Telegraphic Speech, Delayed Speech, Newspaper Headlines are very economical

• Yelling “Fire” in a theater is very economical

• Poetry with its schemes and tropes and embellishments and repetitions and rhetorical devices is not very economic.

(Mey 180-181)

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• Holding, Sharing, Yielding

• Pausing, Interrupting, Back Channeling, Echoing, Laughing, Prompting, Turn-Taking, etc.

• Greeting-Return Greeting

• Damage-Repair

• Summons-Compliance

(Mey 137)

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• Honestly…

• Does the distinguished Prime Minister realize that…

• I don’t mean to argue, but…

• I don’t mean to be a fly in the ointment, but…

• I don’t mean to be confrontational, but…

• I don’t mean to interfere, but…

• To make a long story short…

• I’m not kidding…

• Literally…

• With all do respect…

(Mey 198)

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• Laughter can indicate many different things:

• 1. Embarrassment

• 2. Apology

• 3. Understanding the punch line of a joke

(Mey 138)

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• DICTIONARY DEFINITION: “A cow is an animal which lives in a barn or a corral and produces milk.”

• Pilate said, “Quod scripsi scripsi” (what I have written I have written)

• Mikhail Bakhtin said, “Sentences are repeatable. Sentences are repeatable.”

(Mey 199, Bakhtin 108)

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• Turn taking is part of the cooperative principle. It is based on “quid pro quo.”

• It makes speech aware of the audience. Compare the following:

• Bible’s “Golden Rule”

• French “Universal Declaration of Rights”

• United Nations “Freedom Charter

(Mey 268)

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• Current speaker selects next speaker (e.g. by passing feather, etc.)

• Next speaker selects himself

• Speaker runs out of things to say

• Speaker runs out of breath

• Speaker opens the floor to any taker

• Speaker retains the floor by telling a joke or story, “unnatural breaks,” or “turn-threatening noises”

(Sacks 224, Mey 139-140))

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Eschholz, Paulo, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark. Language Awareness: Readings for College Writers. New York, NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009.

Grice, H. P. “Further Notes on Logic and Conversation.” In Syntax and Semantics Ed. Peter Cole. New York, NY: Academic Press, 113-128.

Grice, H. P. "Logic and Conversation." Syntax and Semantics. Eds. P. Cole, and J. L. Morgan. New York, NY: Academic Press, 1975, 41-58.

Grice, H. P. "Meaning." Semantics: An Interdisciplinary Reader in Philosophy, Linguistics, and Psychology Eds. D. Steinberg, and L. Jakobovits, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 53-59.

Grice, H. P. "Presupposition and Conversational Implicature." Radical Pragmatics. Ed. Peter Cole. New York, NY: Academic Press, 1989.

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Grice, H. P. Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989.

Horn, Laurence R. “Toward a New Taxonomy for Pragmatic Inference: Q-based and R-based Implicative.” in Pragmatics: Crigical Concepts, Volume IV Ed. Asa Kasher, London, England: Routledge, 383-418.

Leech, Geoffrey N. Principles of Pragmatics. London, England: Longman, 1983.

Levinson, Stephen C. Pragmatics. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

Meehan, James. “Tale Spin.” In Inside Computer Understanding. Eds. Roger C. Schank and Christopher K. Riesbeck. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1981, 197-226.

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Mey, Jacob L. Pragmatics: An Introduction, 2nd Edition. Oxford, England, 2001.

Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. “Tendentious Puns: Names with a Purpose.” Etc. 48.2 (1991): 146-152.

Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20th-Century American Humor. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.

Nilsen, Don L. F. “Discourse Tendency: A Study in Extended Tropes.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 19.3 (1989): 263-272.

Nilsen, Don L. F. “The Importance of Tendency: An Extension of Freud’s Concept of Tendentious Humor.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 4 (1988): 335-347.

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Raskin, Victor, ed. The Primer of Humor Research. New York, NY: Mouton de Gruyter, 2008.

Rundquist, Suellen. “Indirectness: A Gender Study of Flouting Grice’s Maxims.” Journal of Pragmatics 18.5 (1992): 431-449.

Sacks, Harvey. Lectures on Conversation Oxford, England: Blackwell, 1995.

Sperber, Dan and Deirdre Wilson. Relevance: Communication and Cognition, 2nd Edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.

Tsui, Amy B. “Sequencing Rules and Coherence in Discourse.” Journal of Pragmatics 15.2 (1991): 111-129.

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