Pragmatics in practice a pragmatic analysis o f a friends episode
1 / 38

Pragmatics in practice [ a pragmatic analysis o f a Friends episode] - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on
  • Presentation posted in: General

Pragmatics in practice [ a pragmatic analysis o f a Friends episode]. ALENA KAČMÁROVÁ INSTITUTE OF BRITISH AND AMERICAN STUDIES PREŠOV UNIVERSITY. What is pragmatics? . A study of language A study of MEANING in language A language study concerned with a SPEAKER’S MEANING.

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.

Download Presentation

Pragmatics in practice [ a pragmatic analysis o f a Friends episode]

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript

Pragmaticsin practice [a pragmatic analysis of a Friendsepisode]




What is pragmatics?

  • A study of language

  • A study of MEANING in language

  • A language study concerned with a SPEAKER’S MEANING


= a speaker’s communicative intention

= by saying something a speaker can:

  • ask someone to do something

  • warn someone

  • offer something

  • etc.

“It’s raining.”

(1) ask someone to do something

Could you close the window, please?

(2) warn someone

Don’t go outside, you’re gonna get wet.

(3) offer something

I can you give you a lift.

What helps the listener understand what the speaker means?


  • Physical (situational)

  • Mental (psychological)

  • Linguistic

  • Knowledge (of the world)

    A: So, could you? A: I have a baby girl.Tomáš aj bez deda.

    B: Sure, why not?B: Well, that’s all right.

    A: I also have a cat.

    B: Oh, I’m sorry.

    He’ll have to bring that back tomorrow, because she isn’t herenow.

Meaning[J. Furdík (2000)]




Types of meaning

Lexicology = word meaning

a hotel

Semantics = sentence meaning

A: Do you know where the Savoy Hotel is?

B: Yes, I do. (and walks away)

Pragmatics = utterance meaning

(speaker’s communicative intention + context)

A: Do you know where the Savoy hotel is?

B: Yes, I do. + instructions


  • the study of invisible meaning,

    or how we recognize what is meant when it isn’t actually said/written  we depend on a lot of shared assumptions and expectations

  • the study of intended speaker meaning

    we normally try to understand not only what the words mean, but what the writer or speaker of those words intended to convey.

  • the study of what people have in mind

Cooperative principle (Grice, 1975)

  • first set out by Herbert P. Grice (1913 – 1988), an English philosopher

  • His approach to communication:

  • as any kind of social behavior, the utterance itself follows certain rules

  • a dialogue is not composed of isolated statements. If so, it would fail to carry meaning

  • what guarantees its meaningfulness is the fact that a speaker and hearer COOPERATE and in doing so communicate meaning

  •  there must exist a principle, though intuitive, which guides the interaction of participants in communication

Categories of the cooperative principle (1)

  • Grice proposed four categories of the CP

  • inspired by Kant’s categories of Quantity, Quality, Relation and Manner

  • they are supposed to be observed and manifested by speakers and hearers.

  • The categories became known as ‘MAXIMS’:

    1. Maxim of Quantity

    2. Maxim of Quality

    3. Maxim of Relation

    4. Maxim of Manner

Categories of the cooperative principle (2)

primarily related to ‘what’is said: i.e. to

Maxim of Quantity the appropriate amount of information,

Maxim of Quality truthful information,

Maxim of Relation relevant information.

Maxim of Manner relates to  ‘how’ what is said is to be said, to the manner of communication,

Maxim of quantity

  • Give the right amount of information.

  • Be appropriately informative:

  • providing too much information

  • and withholding relevant pieces of information

  • is perceived as uncooperative

  • A: What are you watching?

  • B: A movie.

Maxim of quality

Try to make your contribution one that is true:

  • do not say what you believe to be false,

  • do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

    White lies

    If we did not adhere to this maxim, the communication would cease to exist, it would have no sense.

Maxim of relation

Be relevant.

Say only what you consider relevant to the message communicated or understood by means of context.

A: What do you think of my new purse?

B: I don’t like yellow.

Maxim of manner

Avoid obscurity of expression.

Avoid ambiguity.

Be brief.

Be orderly.

Will you open the door for me, please?


I’m wondering if you would be so kind, would you mind opening the door for me, please?

Research aims

  • to study spoken exchanges

  • to understand principles of how dialogues are built-up

  • to study the principles and extent of speaker-hearer cooperation in authentic language data

  • to arrive at the knowledge of how CP maxims can be followed and/or violated.

Research corpus selection


  • common standard currently in use by speakers of English

  • involvement of several parties so a dialogic mode can be studied

  • real or real-like conversation

     Film dialogue (audio-visual text)

Focal Research corpus

  • an episode from “Friends”

  • “The One Where No one Proposes”

  • Part 1, Season 9, 2002/03

  • Synopsis:

  • Rachel is in the post-delivery room (just gave birth to baby Emma). In the room, Joey looks for some tissue for upset Rachel, picks up Ross’s jacket, and an engagement ring falls to the floor. He kneels to pick it up and turns to Rachel, still on his knees and still holding the ring. Rachel thinks this is his proposal of marriage and accepts. In the rest of the episode, Joey strives to explain the misunderstanding.

Description of the selected discourse

  • The discourse concerned is an example of face-to-face conversation.

  • It is socially interactive .

  • It is interpersonal.

  • It is used in public and in private.

  • Vocabulary ranges from informal through neutral to colloquial.

  • Syntax is less complex, grammar is standard.

  • It is inherently rich in prosody.

  • For a viewer, the time is not real; it is real from a viewpoint of the story.

  • It is relatively subjective – the conversation itself is not spontaneous but it is made to evoke an illusion of spontaneous speech

The research premise

The discourse presented in Friends is:



    It is assumed that

    the MaximsofQuantity and Manner are adhered to throughout the conversation.

Dialogical structure

  • Main characters:Other characters:

  • RachelDad (Monica and Ross’s)

  • RossNurse

  • Joey

  • Chandler

  • Monica

  • Phoebe

  • The whole episode: 23 dialogical exchanges

Violation of maxims

  • Out of 23 exchanges (app. 506 utterances), the maxims were violated in the following cases:

Example 1 [Rachel – Joey]

Rachel:Joey? Oh, my God. Okay. So... I guess we should make it official, huh?

Joey:Look, Rach, I....

Violation of all maxims(here: itserves as a platform for the whole story.)

It is an incomplete conversation.

Rachel wrongly understands the physical context. (Relation)

Joey does not provide enough information to explain what has happened (Quantity)

Joey does not provide truthful information to explain what has happened (Quality)

No explanation is provided. (Manner)

Example 2 (A)[Monica–DAD–Chandler–Ross–Phoebe]

  • Monica:Hi. Hey, look who’s here.

  • Dad:Where’s my granddaughter? I’ve been practicing my magic tricks.

  • Chandler:He pulled a quarter out of my ear.

  • Ross:Hey, where’s Mom?

  • Dad:She went to pick up Aunt Liddy.

  • Monica:Aunt Liddy’s coming? That means we get $5 each!

  • Dad:So when do I get to meet Emma and show her this?

  • Chandler:Okay, wow.

  • Ross:Emma’s in the nursery. I’ll take you now if you want.

Example 2 (B) [Monica–DAD–Chandler–Ross–Phoebe]

Dad:So when do I get to meet Emma and show her this?

Ross:Emma’s in the nursery. I’ll take you now if you want.

Violation of Relation Maxim.

How is the question and the answer related? Are they related at all?

At first sight – NO.

Communicative intention of a speaker – to cooperate and provide relevant information

Example 3 (A) [Joey – Chandler]

Joey:… Rachel thinks I asked her to marry me.

Chandler:What? Why does she think that?

Joey:Because it kind of looked like I did.

Chandler:Again, what?

Joey:Okay, I was down on one knee with the ring in my hand--

Chandler:As we all are at some point during the day.

Joey:It wasn’t my ring. It fell out of Ross’ jacket... and when I knelt down to pick it up, Rachel thought I was proposing.

Chandler:Ross had a ring? And he was gonna propose?

Joey:I guess.

Chandler:And you did it first? This is gonna kill him. You know how much he loves to propose.

Joey:I know. I know. It’s awful.

Chandler:Well, what did she say?

Joey:She said, „Yes.“

Chandler:You’re smiling.

Joey:No, I’m not.

Chandler: Yes, you are. I can tell by the way your mouth is.

Example 3 (b)[Joey – Chandler]

Chandler: You’re smiling.

Joey:No, I’m not.

Chandler: Yes, you are. I can tell by the way your mouth is.

Violation of Quality Maxim

The text itself does not provide evidence for violation of Quality Maxim. This is obvious from the physical context and the turn to follow (Chandler’s reaction).

Example 4 (A) [Rachel – Phoebe]



Phoebe:Are you all right?

Rachel:I think I just got engaged.

Phoebe:Oh, my God! He did it?

Rachel:What? Did you know he was gonna ask me?

Phoebe:Are you kidding? I’m, like, the one who talked him into it. I like to think of myself as the puppet master of the group.

Rachel:And you really think this is a good idea?

Phoebe:I just talked him into it. Don’t tell me I have to do you too? The puppet master gets tired, people.

Rachel:Okay. I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right.

Phoebe:Why? You two are so meant to be together. Everybody thinks so.

Rachel:Really? Even Ross?

Phoebe:Especially Ross.

Example 4 (b) [Rachel – Phoebe]

The whole conversation

Violation of Relation Maxim

Rachel a Phoebe talk about two different things (people), yet they take it they share the view of the same person.

The information is irrelevant to the topic.

Example 5 (A) [Chandler – Monica – DAD]

Monica:Yeah, we’re trying to get pregnant.

Dad:Oh, my God, this is so exciting. Well, get back in there! I’ll guard the door!

Monica:That’s okay, Dad, we can wait until later.

Dad:Whoa! I don’t think so. Aren’t you ovulating?


Dad:You gotta get at it, princess. When your mother and I were trying to conceive you... whenever she was ovulating, bam, we did it! That’s how I got my bad hip.

Chandler:That’s funny. This conversation’s how I got the bullet hole in my head.

Dad:This one time I had my knee on the sink, and your mother was -

Chandler:Seriously, sir, my brains, all over the wall.

Monica:I don’t think we need to hear the specific positions you and Mom had.

Example 5 (b) [Chandler – Monica – DAD]

Dad: This one time I had my knee on the sink, and your mother was—

Monica: I don’t think we need to hear the specific positions you and Mom had.

Violation of Quantity and Relation Maxims.

Monica considers the information provided by her Dad abundant in the given situation. (Quantity)

Monica considers the information provided by her Dad irrelevant in the given situation. (Relation)

Example 6 (A) [Ross – Rachel]

Ross:Look, I know it’s not a proposal, and I don’t know where you are... but with everything that’s been going on and with Emma, I’m....I’ve been feeling....

Rachel:Yeah, I know. I’ve been feeling....



Ross:Okay, well, that-- Wow, okay, well-- Then maybe at least we can talk about us again?

Rachel:Yeah. Maybe.

Ross:Well, good. Okay. I kind of think, you know, if we, if – You’re wearing the ring.

Rachel:What’s that?

Ross:And you told Phoebe you were engaged.

Rachel:I’m sorry, what?

Ross:When you thought Joey proposed...did you say yes?

Example 6 (b) [Ross – Rachel]

Ross:… You’re wearing the ring.

Rachel: What’s that?

Ross:And you told Phoebe you were engaged.

Rachel:I’m sorry, what?

Violation of Quality

Rachel realizes that Ross is getting what has happened. In order to avoid direct answer she pretends she does understand and/or has not heard what he said.

A Concluding remark

The maxims of the Cooperative Principle:

  • All of them at a time: an ideal situation.

  • If we did not follow Quality Maxim - the communication among people would make no sense

  • Violation of some maxims is sometimes necessary:

  • politeness

    A: I’m gonna miss you. B: Oh, thank you, that’s nice. (+ no mention of missing A)

  • irony

    A: Who hasn’t submitted their essay? B: Mickey Mouse.

  • Thank you for attention.





  • Login