Pragmatics: ruinsles of conversation

Язык: русский
Формат: курсова
Тип документа: Word Doc
0 1811
Скачать документ




Department of English Grammar

Course paper

”Pragmatics: rules of conversation”

Oleksandra Iurchuk

group 501

English Department

Research Advisor:

Kandidate of Linguistics,

Professor I.I. Seryakova

Kyiv 2009



Part I. Theoretical Aspects of Conversational Principles

1.1 Philosophical background

1.2 Cooperative principle by H.P.Grice

1.2.1 Maxims of conversation

1.2.2 Conversation implicatures

Part II. Applied Aspects of Conversational Analysis

2.1 Following the cooperative principle

2.2 Flouting the cooperative principle

General conclusion



Language is the main device of communication. As a means to build a
social relation, language has various functions. Malinowski in Halliday
classifies language functions into two big groups. The first is
pragmatic, in which this function is the further divided into narrative
and active. In this case, the main function of language is as a means of
communication. The second is magical, in which language is used in
ceremonial or religious activities in the culture.

A mutual understanding is inevitably needed by a speaker and a hearer in
order to construct a good communication. There are times when people say
(or write) exactly what they mean, but generally they are not totally
explicit. They manage to convey far more than their words mean, or even
something quite different from the meaning of their words. Understanding
an utterance syntactically and semantically is not sufficient since the
meaning of utterance is not only stated but it is also implied. In order
to comprehend the implied meaning of an utterance, implicature becomes
unavoidably essential. Implicature is a proposition that is implied by
the utterance in a context even though that proposition is not a part of
nor an entailment of what is actually said. Cooperative principles
proposed by Grice mentions that a speaker makes his conversational
contribution such as is required at the stage in which it occurs, by the
accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which he is
engaged. [13] He, then, further divides the cooperative principles into
four maxims: maxim of quality, maxim of quantity, maxim of relevance,
and maxim of manner.

To grasp the notion of communication, context happens to be completely
important since speaker and hearer have to know the context in which the
conversation takes place. Therefore, understanding context can be a
helpful way to know the speaker and hearer’s intention.

Aim of the course paper is to define and describe the rules of
conversation according to Paul Grice’s philosophy and their practical

Object of the course paper is the Cooperative principle and Maxims of

Subject of the course paper is the conversational analysis according to
Cooperative principle and Maxims of Conversation.

Part I. Theoretical Aspects of Conversational Principles

1.1 Philosophical background

Before starting to discus the rules of conversation, it is important, in
our opinion, to mention some philosophical aspects of Grice’s work on
language. The aim here is to show the recurring themes in Grice’s work,
by close reference to his papers and also to commentaries on them.

The first point to make is that there are two broad aspects to the
Gricean program. There is the work on implicatures, with which we are
largely concerned here, but there is also the earlier work on
sentence-meaning and speaker-meaning. Our position is that although
there are distinct foci to the two aspects of the Gricean program, they
are also closely interrelated: to understand the motivation behind
implicatures, a basic understanding of Grice’s account of
speaker-meaning, sentence- meaning and speaker-intention is also

Paul Grice is best known for his contributions to the theory of meaning
and communication. This work (collected in Grice 1989) has had lasting
importance for philosophy and linguistics, with implications for
cognitive science generally. His three most influential contributions
concern the nature of communication, the distinction betwen speaker’s
meaning and linguistic meaning, and the phenomenon of conversational

Grice’s concept of speaker’s meaning was an ingenious refinement of the
crude idea that communication is a matter of intentionally affecting
another person’s psychological states. He discovered that there is a
distinctive, rational means by which the effect is achieved: by way of
getting one’s audience to recognize one’s intention to achieve it. The
intention includes, as part of its content, that the audience recognize
this very intention by taking into account the fact that they are
intended to recognize it. A communicative intention is thus a
self-referential, or reflexive, intention. It does not involve a series
of nested intentions–the speaker does not have an intention to convey
something and a further intention that the first be recognized, for then
this further intention would require a still further intention that it
be recognized, and so on ad infinitum. Confusing reflexive with iterated
intentions, to which even Grice himself was prone, led to an extensive
literature replete with counterexamples to ever more elaborate
characterizations of the intentions required for genuine communication
(Strawson, Schiffer), and to the spurious objection that it involves an
infinite regress (Sperber and Wilson, whose own “relevance” theory
neglects the reflexivity of communicative intentions). Although the idea
of reflexive intentions raises subtle issues (the exchange between
Recanati and Bach), it clearly accounts for the essentially overt
character of communicative intentions, namely, that their fulfillment
consists their recognition (by the intended audience). This idea forms
the core of a Gricean approach to the theory of speech acts, including
nonliteral and indirect speech acts (Bach and Harnish). Different types
of speech acts (statements, requests, apologies, etc.) may be
distinguished by the type of propositional attitude (belief, desire,
regret etc.) being expressed by the speaker.[3]

Grice’s distinction between speaker’s and linguistic meaning reflects
the fact that what a speaker means in uttering a sentence freque
diverges from what the sentence itself means. A speaker can mean
something other than what the sentence means, as in “Nature abhors a
vacuum,” or something more, as in “Is there a doctor in the house?”
Grice invoked this distinction for two reasons. First, he thought
linguistic meaning could be reduced to (standardized) speaker’s meaning.
This reductive view has not gained wide acceptance, because of its
extreme complexity and because it requires the controversial assumption
that language is essentially a vehicle for communicating thoughts and
not a medium of thought itself. Still, many philosophers would at least
concede that mental content is a more fundamental notion than linguistic
meaning, and perhaps even that semantics reduces to propositioal
attitude psychology.

Grice’s other reason for invoking the distinction between speaker’s and
linguistic meaning was to combat extravagant claims, made by so-called
“ordinary language” philosophers, about various important philosophical
terms, such as ‘believes’ or ‘looks.’ For example, it was sometimes
suggested that believing implies not knowing, because to say, e.g., “I
believe that alcohol is dangerous” is to imply that one does not know
this, or to say “The sky looks blue” is to imply that the sky might not
actually be blue. However, as Grice pointed out, what carries such
implications is not what one is saying but that one is saying it (as
opposed to the stronger ‘I know that alcohol is dangerous” or “The sky
is blue). Grice also objected to certain ambiguity claims, e.g., that
‘or’ has an exclusive as well as inclusive sense, as in “I would like an
apple or an orange,” by pointing out that the use of ‘or,’ not the word
itself, that carries the implication of exclusivity. Grice’s Modified
Occam’s Razor (“Senses are not to be multiplied beyond necessity”) cut
back on a growing conflation of (linguistic) meaning with use, and has
since helped linguists appreciate the importance of separating, so far
as possible, the domains of semantics and pragmatics. [3]

Grice has been associated with the Oxford group known (mainly by their
opponents) as ‘Ordinary Language Philosophers’, who thought “important
features of natural language were not revealed, but hidden” by the
traditional logical approach of such ‘Ideal Language Philosophers’ as
Frege and Russell.[7] However, it is very clear that the concept, and
use of, logic is considered a basic philosophical tool by Grice. The
relationship between conversation and logic is the starting point of
Grice [9], it is considered important enough to be in the titles of his
two main implicature papers (Grice), yet the concept of logic is rarely
mentioned in the same breath as the CP.

Grice [7] starts with the long-accepted fact that formal devices
representing the logical functions of and and or, and so forth, diverge
in meaning from their natural language counterparts. He then sets out
briefly the extremes of the two opposing positions in relation to this.
The formalists take the position that the additional meanings which can
be found in natural language are imperfections of that system, and: “The
proper course is to conceive and begin to construct an ideal language,
incorporating the formal devices, the sentences of which will be clear,
determinate in truth value, and certifiably free from metaphysical
implications; the foundations of science will now be philosophically
secure, since the statements of the scientist will be expressible within
this ideal language.” [9]

Whereas the non-formalist holds that as speakers can understand the
words which don’t have logical equivalence, then this shouldn’t be
considered a deficiency in the system: language has other functions
rather than serving science.

Grice’s position is that the formalists are failing to account for the
logic of conversation – there are systems there, it is a question of
identifying them: “Moreover, while it is no doubt true that the formal
devices are especially amenable to systematic treatment by the logician,
it remains the case that there are very many inferences and arguments,
expressed in natural language and not in terms of these devices, that
are nevertheless recognizably valid. I have, moreover, no intention of
entering the fray on behalf of either contestant. I wish, rather, to
maintain that the common assumption of the contestants that the
divergences do in fact exist is (broadly speaking) a common mistake, and
that the mistake arises from an inadequate attention to the nature and
importance of the conditions governing conversation.” Grice. [7]

Therefore, the aim of Grice [7] is to demonstrate the existence of a
logic to the operation of conversations. It is not about conversations
being cooperative – that might be an outcome of the logical structure,
but it is certainly not its raison d’etre (Although it is very unclear
that cooperation is such a feature of conversation.). The use of
implicatures as an investigative tool in Grice [8] was not only to
demonstrate the philosophical utility of implicatures, but also to
demonstrate that structures which had evaded the grasp of formal logic
could be accounted for in a systematic way. Thus the formalists’
argument for the imperfections of natural language is undermined: if
meanings can be predicted reliably from forms, then their philosophical
worries are unfounded. Of course, it is arguable that this aim has yet
to be achieved, if, indeed, it is possible. However, the point to be
made here is that Grice has chosen his title discussion of this
carefully, to reflect his wider interests. Grice [7] are about logic,
not cooperation. This is why the importance of logic recurs throughout
his work on the philosophy of language, whereas cooperation per se is
not mentioned elsewhere.

1.2 Cooperative principle by H.P. Grice

Paul Grice emphasized the distinction Voltaire makes between what words
mean, what the speaker literally says when using them, and what the
speaker means or intends to communicate by using those words, which
often goes considerably beyond what is said. A asks B to lunch and B
replies, “I have a one o’clock class I’m not prepared for.” B has
conveyed to A that B will not be coming to lunch, although B hasn’t
literally said so. B intends for A to figure out that by indicating a
reason for not coming to lunch (the need to prepare his class) B intend
to convey that B is not coming to lunch for that reason. The study of
such conversational implicatures is the core of Grice’s influential
theory. [8]

Grice’s so-called theory of conversation starts with a sharp distinction
between what someone says and what someone ‘implicates’ by uttering a
sentence. What someone says is determined by the conventional meaning of
the sentence uttered and contextual processes of disambiguation and
reference fixing; what she implicates is associated with the existence
to some rational principles and maxims governing conversation (setting
aside “conventional implicatures” which we discuss below). 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. Consider his
initial example:

A and B are talking about a mutual friend, C, who is now working in a
bank. A asks B how C is getting on in his job, and B replies: Oh quite
well, I think; he likes his colleagues, and he hasn’t been to prison

What did B say by uttering “he hasn’t been to prison yet”? Roughly, all
he literally said of C was that he hasn’t been to prison up to the time
of utterance. This is what the conventional sentence meaning plus
contextual processes of disambiguation, precisification of vague
expressions and reference fixing provide.

But, normally, B would have implicated more than this: that C is the
sort of person likely to yield to the temptation provided by his
occupation. According to Grice, the ‘calculation’ of conversational
implicatures is grounded on common knowledge of what the speaker has
said (or better, the fact that he has said it), the linguistic and extra
linguistic context of the utterance, general background information, and
the consideration of what Grice dubs the ‘Cooperative Principle (CP)’:
Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage
at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk
exchange in which you are engaged.[7]

In other words, we as speakers try to contribute meaningful, productive
utterances to further the conversation. It then follows that, as
listeners, we assume that our conversational partners are doing the

You can think of reasons why someone might be uncooperative in
conversation (maybe they’re being interrogated for information they
don’t want to give up; maybe they hate the person they’re talking to;
maybe they’re just crazy) but in the vast majority of conversations,
it’s safe to assume that both participants are trying to be cooperative.

This assumption (that the cooperative principle holds, and the people
we’re speaking to are trying to cooperate) explains two things:

(1) why speech errors are often ignored (or even go unnoticed) in
conversation. As long as the meaning the speaker is trying to get across
is clear, the listener usually gives them the benefit of the doubt and
focuses on the meaning.

(2) why we can find meaning in statements which, on the surface, seem
ridiculous, untrue or unrelated (i.e. metaphors, sarcasm, overstatement,
understatement, etc.) Rather than assuming that our conversational
partner is lying, crazy, or speaking at random, we assume they’re trying
to get across some meaning, and we can figure out what that meaning is.

The cooperative principle can be divided into four maxims, called the
Gricean maxims, describing specific rational principles observed by
people who obey the cooperative principle; these principles enable
effective communication.

1.2.1 Maxims of conversation

The philosopher Paul Grice proposed four conversational maxims that
arise from the pragmatics of natural language. The Gricean Maxims are a
way to explain the link between utterances and what is understood from
them. The Maxims are based on his cooperative principle, which states,
‘Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage
at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk
exchange in which you are engaged,’ and is so called because listeners
and speakers must speak cooperatively and mutually accept one another to
be understood in a particular way. The principle describes how effective
communication in conversation is achieved in common social situations
and is further broken down into the four Maxims of Quality, Quantity,
Relevance and Manner.

The category of Quantity relates to the quantity of information to be
provided, and under it fall the following maxims:

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.

(The second maxim is disputable; it might be said that to be
over-informative is not a transgression of the CP but merely a waste of
time. However, it might be answered that such overinformativeness may be
confusing in that it is liable to raise side issues; and there may also
be an indirect effect, in that the hearers may be misled as a result of
thinking that there is some particular point in the provision of the
excess of information. However this may be, there is perhaps a different
reason for doubt about the admission of this second maxim, namely, that
its will be secured by a later maxim, which concerns relevance [7]).

Under the category of Quality fall a supermaxim – “Try to make your
contribution one that is true” – and two more specific maxims:

1. Do not say what you believe to be false.

2. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

Under the category of Relation Grice places a single maxim, namely, ‘Be
relevant.’ Though the maxim itself it terse, its formulation conceals a
number of problems like questions about what different kinds and focuses
of relevance there may be, how these shift in the course of a talk
exchange, how to allow for the fact that subjects of conversation are
legitimately changed, and so on.

Finally, under the category of Manner, which Grice understands as
relating not (like the previous categories) to what is said but, rather,
to HOW what is said is to be said, is included the supermaxim – ‘Be
perspicuous’ – and various maxims such as:

1. Avoid obscurity of expression.

2. Avoid ambiguity.

3. Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity).

4. Be orderly.

It is obvious that the observance of some of these maxims is a matter of
less urgency than is the observance of others; a man has expressed
himself with undue prolixity would, in general, be open to milder
comment than would a man who has said something he believes to be false.
Indeed, it might be felt that the importance of at least the first maxim
of Quality is such that it should not be included in a scheme of the
kind Grice was constructing; other maxims come into operation only on
the assumption that this maxim of Quality is satisfied. While this may
be correct, so far as generation of implicatures is concerned it seems
to play a role not totally different from the other maxims, and it will
be convenient, for the present at least, to treat it as a member of the
list of maxims.

There are all sorts of other maxims (aesthetic, social, or moral in
character), such as ‘Be polite’, that are also generate nonconventional
implicatures. The conversational maxims, however, and the conversational
implicatures connected with them, are specially connected with the
particular purpose that talk (and so, talk exchange) is adapted to serve
and is primarily employed to serve. When Grice stated his maxims, the
main purpose were a maximally effective exchange of information; this
specification is too narrow, and the scheme needs to be generalized to
allow for such general purpose as influencing or directing the actions
of others.

These maxims may be better understood as describing the assumptions
listeners normally make about the way speakers will talk, rather than
prescriptions for how one ought to talk. Philosopher Kent Bach
writes:‘…We need first to get clear on the character of Grice’s
maxims. They are not sociological generalizations about speech, nor they
are moral prescriptions or proscriptions on what to say or communicate.
Although Grice presented them in the form of guidelines for how to
communicate successfully, I think they are better construed as
presumptions about utterances, presumptions that we as listeners rely on
and as speakers exploit.’[1]

Gricean Maxims generate implicatures. If the overt, surface meaning of a
sentence does not seem to be consistent with the Gricean maxims, and yet
the circumstances lead us to think that the speaker is nonetheless
obeying the cooperative principle, we tend to look for other meanings
that could be implicated by the sentence.

Grice did not, however, assume that all people should constantly follow
these maxims. Instead, he found it interesting when these were not
respected, namely either “flouted” (with the listener being expected to
be able to understand the message) or “violated” (with the listener
being expected to not note this). Flouting would imply some other,
hidden meaning. The importance was in what was not said. For example:
Answering It’s raining to someone who has suggested a game of tennis
only disrepects the maxim of relation on the surface, the reasoning
behind this ‘fragment’ sentence is normally clear to the interlocutor
(the maxim is just “flouted”).

Grice’s theory is often disputed with the argument that cooperative
conversation, as with most social behavior, is culturally determined.
Therefore, the Gricean Maxims and the Cooperative Principle cannot be
universally applied due to intercultural differences. The Malagasy, for
example, follow a completely opposite Cooperative Principle in order to
achieve conversational cooperation. In their culture, speakers 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

Another criticism is that the Gricean Maxims can easily be
misinterpreted to be a guideline for etiquette, instructing speakers on
how to be moral, polite conversationalists. However, the Gricean Maxims,
despite their wording, are only meant to describe the commonly accepted
traits of successful cooperative communication. Geoffrey Leech created
the Politeness maxims: tact, generosity, approbation, modesty,
agreement, and sympathy.

1.2.2 Conversation implicatures

An implicature is something meant, implied, or suggested distinct from
what is said. Implicatures can be part of sentence meaning or dependent
on conversational context, and can be conventional or unconventional.
Conversational implicatures have become one of the principal subjects of
pragmatics. Figures of speech provide familiar examples. An important
conceptual and methodological issue in semantics is how to distinguish
senses and entailments from conventional implicatures. Implicature has
been invoked for a variety of purposes, from defending controversial
semantic claims in philosophy to explaining lexical gaps in linguistics.
H. P. Grice, who coined the term “implicature,” and classified the
phenomenon, developed an influential theory to explain and predict
conversational implicatures, and describe how they are understood. The
“Cooperative Principle” and associated “Maxims” play a central role.
Other authors have focused on principles of politeness and communicative
efficiency. Questions have been raised as to how well these
principle-based theories account for the intentionality of speaker
implicature and conventionality of sentence implicature. Critics observe
that speakers often have goals other than the cooperative and efficient
exchange of information, and that conventions are always arbitrary to
some extent.[4]

Grice characterizes the notion of conversational implicature in such a
way: A man who, by (in, when) saying (or making as if to say) that p has
implicated q, may be said to have conversationally implicated that q,
provided that (1) he is to presumed to be observing the conversational
maxims, or at least the cooperative principle; (2) the supposition that
he is aware that, or thinks that, q is required in order to make his
saying or making as if to say p (or doing so in those terms) consistent
with the presumption; and (3) the speaker thinks (and would expect the
hearer th think that the speaker thinks) that it is within the
competence of the hearer to work out, or grasp intuitively, that the
supposition mentioned in 2 is required.

The presence of a conversational implicature must be capable of being
worked out; for even it can in fact be intuitively grasped, unless the
intuition is replaceable by any argument, the implicature (if present at
all) will not count as a conversational implicature; it will be a
conventional implicature. To work out a particular conversational
implicature is present, the hearer will replay on the following data:
(1) the conventional meaning of the words used, together with the
identity of any references that may be involved; (2) the CP and its
maxims; (3) the context, linguistic or otherwise, of the utterance; (4)
other items of background knowledge; and (5) the fact (or supposed fact)
that all relevant items falling under the previous headings are
available to both participants know or assume this to be the case. [7]

So H.P. Grice coined the term implicature for communicated
non-truth-conditional meaning:

• a conventional implicature is non-truth-conditional meaning associated
with a particular linguistic expression — E.g.: Even John couldn’t eat
the quince and locust fritters.

• a conversational implicature is not intrinsically associated with any
expression; it is inferred from the use of some utterance in context

(1) John’s been making a lot of trips to Paphos lately.

What is said: ‘John’s been making a lot of trips to Paphos lately’

What is implicated: ‘The speaker believes that John may have a
girlfriend in Paphos’

According to Grice [], another form of conversational implicature is
also known as a scalar implicature. This concerns the conventional uses
of words like “all” or “some” in conversation. E.g. I ate some of the

This sentence implies “I did not eat all of the pie.” While the
statement “I ate some pie” is still true if the entire pie was eaten,
the conventional meaning of the word “some” and the implicature
generated by the statement is “not all”.

The implicatures are:

a) Context-dependent:

(2) A: Has John got a girlfriend? / Has John started his Christmas
shopping yet?

B: He’s been making a lot of trips to Paphos lately.

(3) A: I’ve run out of petrol. / Damn; it’s midnight already and I’m

B: There’s a garage just round the corner.

b) ?Cancelable (or defeasible):

(4) A: Has John got a girlfriend?

B: He’s been making a lot of trips to Paphos lately.

That usually means he’s on the pull, so I don’t suppose he has a

(5) I’ve read some of those books.

In fact, unlike you, I’ve read them all.

(6) A: I’ve run out of petrol.

B: There’s a garage just round the corner.

They’ve run out of petrol, but might be able to call someone who could

c) ?Non-detachable (usually), i.e. you don’t lose the implicature by
substituting synonyms:

(7) A: Has John got a girlfriend?

B: He’s been a regular visitor to the east of the Akamas peninsula

(8) I’ve completed a number of those tomes.

(9) A: I’ve run out of petrol.

B: You’ll find a filling station just beyond that bend.

• but some certain implicatures are detachable (because they depend on
the manner inwhich the utterance is phrased) — these will also be
addressed under flouting below:

(10) She produced a series of sounds that roughly corresponded to the
score of I am alive.

(11) She sang I am alive.

d) Non-conventional (as different from cancelability or

(12) John’s a machine.

e) ?Calculable:

Conversational implicatures should be calculable from the meaning of
what is said plus identifiable aspects of the context

There are three ways to generate conversational implicatures:

1. Observing the maxims

(13) A: I’ve run out of petrol.

B: There’s a garage just round the corner.

If B’s answer is relevant and informative, but not too informative (i.e.
with useless,misleading information), it must connect to A’s statement.

2. Violating a maxim

(14) A: Where does Gerard live?

B: Somewhere in the South of France.

B violates Quantity (less information than ‘required’). So how is this

Answer:This way B adheres to Quality (don’t say what you know to be
false/lack evidence for).So the implicature is: B doesn’t know exactly
where Gerard lives.

3. Flouting maxims (exploitation)

Violating a maxim is enforced (usually by clashing maxims).

Flouting is deliberate:

(15) A: What if the USA blocks EU-accession of Cyprus?

B: Oh come on, Europe has all the power! (flouting Quality)

(16) John is John. (flouting Quantity)

(17) A: I do think Mrs Jenkins is an old windbag, don’t you?

B: Huh, lovely weather for March, isn’t it? (flouting Relevance)

(18) Johnny: Hey Sally, let’s play marbles.

Mother: How is your homework getting along, Johnny? (flouting Relevance)

(19) She produced a series of sounds that roughly corresponded to the
score of I am alive.(flouting Manner)

• flouting is effectively an invitation to find a new meaning, beyond
‘what is said’ — one that makes the utterance co-operative after all

• flouting is generally associated with particular rhetorical effects

Opting out

A speaker may ‘opt out’ of the Co-operative Principle, i.e. being openly

(20) My lips are sealed; I can say no more.[12]

Part II. Applied Aspects of Conversational Analysis

2.1 Following the cooperative principle

Conversation makes sense to us because they follow certain principles.
this is also true with written texts. Grice has outlined the principles
in his Cooperative Principles (CP), that means to have conversation as
‘cooperative venture’. Cooperative venture is to get an effective,
efficient conversation. So the CP is a mean to make conversation as is
effective and efficient one. There are four maxims in the Cooperative

1. Be relevant (Maxims of relevance)

Make your contribution relevant to the interaction.

Indicate any way that it is not


(a) Pass the salt.

Implicate: Pass the salt now.

(b): A: How are you doing in school?

B: Not too well, actually. I’m failing two of my classes.

vs. B: What fine weather we’re having lately!

2. Be informative (Maxim of quantity)

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.

Examples: (a) A: Where is the post office?

B: Down the road, about 50 metres past the second left.

vs. B: Not far.

(b) A: How did Harry face in court the other day?

B: Oh, he got fine.

B’s contribution is what required from A’s utterance. However, still B
will be condemned asa being a wrong informer, if then, for example,
Harry gets life sentence.

3. Be truthful (Maxim of quality).

Or say things believed to be true and don’t say ones believed to be

Examples: (a) John has two PhDs.

Implicates: that I know that John has, and have adequate evidence that
he has.

A: Should I buy my son this new sports car?

B: I don’t know if that’s such a good idea. He’s totaled two cars since
he got his license last year.

vs. B: No, he seems like he’d be a bad driver.

4. Be clear (Maxim of manner)

Avoid unnecessary prolixity

Avoid ambiguity.

Be brief.

Be orderly.

Examples: A: Where was Alfred yesterday?

B: He went to the store and bought some whiskey.

B is being perspicuous to A. He gives clear response to A.

A: What did you think of that movie?

B: I liked the creative storyline. The ending was really a surprise!

vs. B: It was interestingly done, sir.

Paul Grice admitted that the CP and Maxims of conversation could be
applied not only in talk exchange, but also in sphere of transaction.[]
He discovered that many people act according to these principles because
they were taught to act in such a way and they did not lost this habit.

He tried to find a basis for such behavior and found out that ‘standard
type of conversational practice not merely as something that all or most
do in fact follow but as something that it is reasonable for us to
follow, that we should not abandon.’[8]

Talk exchanges have certain features that jointly distinguish
cooperative transactions:

1. The participants have some common immediate aim, even though their
ultimate aims may be independent and even in conflict. In characteristic
talk exchange, there is a common aim even if , as in an over-the-wall
chat, it is a second –order one, namely ,that each partly should, for
the time being, identify himself with the transitory conversational
interests of the other.

2. The contributions of the participants should be dovetailed, mutually

3. There is some sort of understanding (which may be explicit but which
is often tacit) that, other things being equal, the transaction should
continue in appropriate style unless both parties are agreeable that it
should terminate. [7]

In spite of that no one ever follows to all the maxims far all time, we
might even do not need to, because as we can see, we may rely on
implicature, to get the point of our addresser’s idea.

2.2 Flouting the cooperative principle

In the previous part, it was admitted that CP and maxims of conversation
help the speaker and the hearer to understand each other.

Without cooperation, human interaction would be far more difficult and
counterproductive. Therefore, the Cooperative Principle and the Gricean
Maxims are not specific to conversation but to interaction as a whole.
For example, it would not make sense to reply to a question about the
weather with an answer about groceries because it would violate the
Maxim of Relation. Likewise, responding to a request for some milk with
an entire gallon instead of a glass would violate the Maxim of Quantity.

However, it is possible to flout a maxim intentionally or unconsciously
and thereby convey a different meaning than what is literally spoken.
Many times in conversation, this flouting is manipulated by a speaker to
produce a negative pragmatic effect, as with sarcasm or irony. The
Gricean Maxims are therefore often purposefully flouted by comedians and
writers, who may hide the complete truth and manipulate their words for
the effect of the story and the sake of the reader’s experience.

Speakers who deliberately flout the maxims usually intend for their
listener to understand their underlying implication. Therefore,
cooperation is still taking place, but no longer on the literal level.
Conversationalists can assume that when speakers intentionally flout a
maxim, they still do so with the aim of expressing some thought. Thus,
the Gricean Maxims serve a purpose both when they are followed and when
they are flouted.

There are several ways/reasons a speaker might break one of the rules:

1. Violating the Cooperative Principle. One instance in which a speaker
might break the maxim of quality is if they are really trying to deceive
the listener; but this would also be a violation of the cooperative

2. Signaling a violation (minor violation). A person might essentially
come out and tell you they are violating a maxim and why.


“I don’t know if this is relevant, but…” (relation)

“I’m not sure how to say this, but…” (manner)

“I can’t tell you; I’m sworn to secrecy.” (quantity)

“This is just the word on the street; I can’t vouch for this
information.” (quality)

3. Maxim clash. A speaker might violate one maxim in order to preserve


Carson is driving John to Meredith’s house.

CARSON: Where does Meredith live?

JOHN: Nevada.

Maxim violated: Quantity.

Why: There is clash between quantity and quality. Carson is looking for
a street address, but John gives a weaker, less informative statement
(hence the quantity violation). If John really doesn’t know anything
more specific, however, he cannot give a more informative statement
without violating quality.[18]

4. “Flouting” a maxim (major violation) to create a conversational
implicature. By clearly and obviously violating a maxim, you can imply
something beyond what you say.

Speakers should give enough information as necessary in order to
understand the current conversation, but not provide more information
than expected. This is known as the maxim of quantity, giving just the
right amount of details so that the conversation flows smoothly.

Ia. A flouting of the first maxim of Quantity:


1. Professor P. writes a letter of recommendation for Lucy when she
applies for a programming job. The letter states, “Lucy is neat and
well-dressed, comes to class on time, and has nice handwriting.”

The letter is a blatant violation of several of the maxims, notably
Quantity (insufficient information is given about Lucy’s ability to
program) and Relevance (irrelevant information is given).

But if the recipient of the letter assumes that Prof. P. is being
cooperative overall, the recipient will conclude that the lack of
information about Lucy’s job skills is a way of communicating that they
are insufficient, without explicitly saying so [8]

2. A: What should I do to get rid of this headache, Doctor?

B: Take some medicine.

Implication: B has not provided enough information – B did not say what
medicine to take.

3. A: Where does C live?

B: Somewhere in the South of France.

Implication: B has not provided enough information – B did not say the
exact address.

Extreme examples of a flouting of the first maxim of Quantity are
provided by utterences of patent tautologies like Women are women and
War is war.[7] They are totally noninformative according to the first
maxim of Quantity and cannot be infringe it in any conversational
context. But they are informative at the level of what implicated, and
the hearer’s identification of their informative content at this level
is dependent on his ability to explain the speaker’s selection ofthis
particular patent tautology.

Ib. A flouting of the second maxim of Quantity.

4. A: Where’s Meredith?

B: The control room or the science lab.

Implication: B doesn’t know which of the two places Meredith is.

5. A: Excuse me–how much is this screwdriver?

B: $9.95. The saw is $39.50, and the power drill there on the table is

Implication: B provides unnecessary additional information (marketers
and salespeople often violate this rule in order to increase sales).

II. Examples in which the first maxim of quality is flouted.

1. Irony:

a) A is a good friend!

Implication: A betrays the speaker, and audience knows it.

b) Don’t be silly. I love working 80 hours a week with no vacation.

A: A lot of people are depending on you.

B: Thanks, that really takes the pressure off.

Implication: By saying something clearly untrue, B is implying that the
opposite is true (sarcasm). The true meaning being expressed here is
probably more like “That really puts a lot of pressure on me” and
perhaps, by extension, “Stop pressuring me.”

2. Metaphor:

a) You are the cream in my coffee

Implication: The speaker is attributing to his audience some feature or
features in respectof which the audience resembles the mentioned

It is possible to combine metaphor and irony by imposing on the hearer
two stages og interpretation.

You are the cream in my coffee – can be interpreted as ‘You are my pride
and joy’, or, as irony interpretant, ‘You are my bane.’

3. Meiosis

Grice has such an example of meiosis, resulting from flouting the maxim
of quality:

‘He was a little intoxicated’

Implication: This man is known to have broken up all the furniture.

4. Hyperbole. Usually in metaphor the second maxim of Quality is

Example: Everybody likes ice-cream.

Implication: it is clear, that there are people, who don’t like

It is not easy to find examples in which the second maxim of Quality is
flouted, because they are rather contextual. They could be added by
gestures, intonation to make the hearer sure that the speaker has a
reasonable basis for such sayings.

Example; She’s probably deceiving her husband this evening.

Implication: the speaker posses some evidence of her love affair.

III. Examples of violation of the maxim of Relation.

Perhaps the most important rule is that your utterances must be relevant
to the current topic at hand; this is known as the maxim of relevance.
Going off-topic constantly will provoke displeasure with your fellow

A: How’s the weather today?

B: There’s a nice film opening at the theater tonight.

Implication: the answer does not correlate with the question.

Violation of this rule is quite useful in order to force a subject

A: Do you really love me?

B: I like Ferris wheels, and college football, and things that go real

Implication: Either B doesn’t want to respond to A (perhaps he has
problems discussing his feelings) or the answer is “no.”

C: Are you ever going to pay back the money I lent you?

D: It’s very hot outside, isn’t it?

Implication: D is not ready to pay back money.

Michael wants Pat to pass the salt. He says, “Could you pass the salt?”

In most cases, this question is not meant literally — it is pretty
clear that Pat is able to pass the salt. Therefore, the question
violates some maxims, notably Relevance.

This violation of a maxim helps indicate to Pat that a non-literal use
of the sentence is intended (most likely, an indirect request).[4]

IV. Examples in which maxims of Manner are flouted.

1. Ambiguity.

When the speaker answers with ambiguity, the hearer should define if
this ambiguity was deliberate or accidental and react in proper way if
it is a conversational game.

According to Grice, there can be two types of deliberate ambiguity:

a) examples in which there is no difference, or no striking difference,
between two interpretations of an utterance with respect to
straightforwardness; neither interpretation is notably more
sophisticated, less standard. [7]

– I sought to tell my love, love that never told can be.

Implication: My love refers either to the emotions or an object of
emotion, but as these notions are contextual synonyms, the flouting of
maxim is acceptable.

b) Examples in which one interpretation is notably less straightforward
than another.

2. Obscurity.

Sometimes the obscurity could be used in order to make the conversation
unclear to the third party of conversation.[7]

A: Shall we get something for the kids?

B: Ok. But I veto I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M.

Implication: By spelling the word ‘ice-cream’ B wants to make the
conversation unclear for children.

3. Failure to be brief or orderly.


Miss B sang ‘Home sweet home’ vs. Miss B produced a series of sounds
that corresponded closely with the score of ‘Home sweet home.’

A: When are you coming home?

B: I will codify that question to my superiors and respond at such a
time as an adequate answer is preparable.

Implication: B is using unnecessarily complicated and confusing words
and construction, because

B does not know or does not wish to give an answer to the question.

It is important to remember, that in English, speakers are accustomed to
hearing events in chronological order (in some other languages, word
order isn’t as important.) This is why “We got married and had a baby”,
and “We had a baby and got married” have different meanings altogether.

Speakers sometimes deliberately violate the rules of ordinary
conversation to achieve certain ends


1. A: Would you like to go out with Andrea?

B: Is the Pope Catholic?

Violated maxim: Relevance

Motivation: B is being humorous. By replying with a question whose
answer is obvious, he is implying that the answer to A’s question is
equally obvious: Yes!

2. A: I’ll pay you back in full next week, I promise.

B: Sure, and pigs will fly and fish will sing.

Violated maxim: Relevance

Motivation: B’s response implies sarcastically that he does not believe

3. A: What are the three most important things in real estate?

B: Location, location, and location.

Violated maxim: Quantity

Motivation: To emphasize the overwhelming importance of location

4. A: So tell me, do you like what I did to my hair?

B: Er…what’s on TV tonight?

Violated maxim: Relevance

Motivation: B does not like A’s hairstyle, so he changed the subject.

5. A: How can I develop a great body like yours?

B: Choose your parents carefully.

Violated maxim: Quality

Motivation: Indirectly saying that it is impossible, because it’s all in
the genes.[4]

General conclusion

The aim of our work was to describe the rules of conversation according
to Paul Grice’s philosophy and demonstrate their practical application.

At the first part we mentioned that Paul Grice was rather a philosopher
than a linguist, that’s why we made the argument for the necessity of
reading Grice’s work ‘Logic and conversation’ in the philosophical
context, rather than in isolation. Then, a consideration of this context
showed a number of themes which recurred: logic,
conventional/non-conventional and, most importantly, rationality.

Grice’s interests were in the system of language; that it is an example
of human rational action, and thus can be accounted for through some
variety of logic (although, not traditional formal logic, perhaps). His
aim was to find the logic of conversation which could account for the
gap between saying and meaning, saying and implicating, conventional and
non-conventional meaning. The logic that he sought was seen as a
manifestation of rational action.

Grice’s articles (1957, 1967) have a profound influence on speech act
theory. Grice proformulated the idea that ordinary communication takes
place not directly by means of convention, but in virtue of a speaker’s
evincing certain intentions and getting his or her audience to recognize
those intentions (and to recognize that it was the speaker’s intention
to secure the recognition). In his view, the utterance is not itself
communicative, but only provides clues to the intentions of the speaker.
A later part of Grice’s program spelled out how various maxims of
cooperative behavior are exploited by speaker’s intentions in uttering
certain words under particular circumstances.

Grice distinguished between what is said in making an utterance, that
which determines the truth value of the contribution, and the total of
what is communicated. Things that are communicated beyond what is said
(in the technical sense) Grice called implicatures, and those
implicatures are depend upon the assumption that the speaker is being
cooperative he called conversational implicatures.

In our work we defined that Cooperative principles is a set of maxims of
conversation and usually people follow them in order to make the
communication clear. However, it is possible to flout a maxim
intentionally or unconsciously and thereby convey a different meaning
than what is literally spoken. Therefore, cooperation is still taking
place, but no longer on the literal level. Conversationalists can assume
that when speakers intentionally flout a maxim, they still do so with
the aim of expressing some thought. Thus, the Gricean Maxims serve a
purpose both when they are followed and when they are flouted.


1. Bach, Kent, “Conversational Impliciture.” – Mind and Language -1994 –

2. Bach, Kent, “The myth of conventional implicature.” Linguistics and
Philosophy. – 1999 – pp.262-283.

3. Bach, Kent, 2004, “Pragmatics and the Philosophy of Language.” In
Horn and Ward (eds.) – 2004 – pp. 463-87.

4. Blakemore, Diane. Understanding Utterances. Oxford: Blackwell. –

5. Carston, Robyn. “Implicature, explicature, and truth-conditional
semantics.” Reprinted in Kasher (ed.) 1998 – pp. 436-79.

6. Chapman, Siobhan. Paul Grice, philosopher and linguist. Houndmills:
Palgrave Macmillan.-2005

7. Grice, H. Paul, “Logic and conversation.”, Syntax and Semantics 3:
Speech Acts, New York: Academic Press – 1975 – pp. 41-58.

8. Grice, H. Paul “Further notes on logic and conversation.” In P. Cole
(ed.) – 1967.

9. Grice, H. Paul “Utterer’s Meaning and Intentions,” Philosophical
Review – 1969 – pp.147-177.

10. Grice, H. Paul “Presupposition and Conversational Implicature.” In
P. Cole (ed.), Radical Pragmatics, New York: Academic Press – 1981- pp.

11. Horn, Laurence R. and Gregory Ward (eds.) The Hanbook of Pragmatics.
Oxford: Blackwell. – 2004.

12. Kempson, Ruth M. “Grammar and Conversational Principles.” In F.
Newmeyer (ed.) Linguistics: The Cambridge Survey, Vol. II. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press – 1988 – pp. 139-163.

13. Levinson, Stephen. Presumptive Meanings. Cambridge, Mass: MIT
Press/Bradford Books- 2000.

14. Neale, Stephen “Paul Grice and the Philosophy of Language,”
Linguistics and Philosophy – 1992 – pp.509-559.

15. Searle John “Indirect speech acts.” ibid. Reprinted in Pragmatics: A
Reader, ed. S. Davis, Oxford: Oxford University Press. -1991- pp.

16. Thomason, R. Accommodation, meaning, and implicature:
Interdisciplinary foundations for pragmatics. In Intentions in
Communication, ed. P. R. Cohen, J. L. Morgan & M. Pollack, Cambridge,
MA: MIT Press -1990 – pp. 325–63.

17. Van Kuppevelt, J. (1996) Inferring from topics: Scalar implicatures
as topic dependent inferences. Linguistics and Philosophy – 1996 – pp.

18. Wilson, D., and Sperber, D. On Grice’s theory of conversation. In
Conversation and Discourse, ed. P. Werth, New York: St. Martins Press
-1981- pp. 155–78.

Internet references:

1. www.appstate.edu/mcgowant/grice.htm

2. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooperative_principle

3. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implicature

4. www.kwary.net

5. www.ncs.ruhosting.nl/bart/talks/paris2010/lecture2.pdf

6. www.sfu.ca/jeffpell/Cogs300/GriceLogicConvers75.pdf

7. www.online.sfsu.edu/kbach/grice.htm

8. www.plato.stanford.edu/entries/grice/

Нашли опечатку? Выделите и нажмите CTRL+Enter

Похожие документы

Оставить комментарий

Уведомление о
Заказать реферат!
UkrReferat.com. Всі права захищені. 2000-2020