Linguistics 110 Linguistic Analysis: Sentences & Dialects
Lecture Number Eleven
Pragmatics: Speech Context

  1. The Cooperative Principle (H. P. Grice)

    How to interpret the implication(s) of utterances.

    1. Relevance: Make your contribution relevant.
      1. –Would you like to go to a movie tonight?
      –I have to study for an exam.
      Bad answers (maybe?):
      –I have to wash (comb) my hair.
      –My grandfather was born in 1910.

      2. –Have you finished that paper yet?
      –I've had to work every evening this week.

      3. –Would you open the door?
      4. –It's Wednesday night. (Take out the trash!)

    2. Quality: Make your contribution true
      1. –Do you work at Bucknell?
      Bad answers (?):
      –I don't know what your talking about.
      –It's hard to say.

    3. Quantity: Do not make your contribution more or less informative than is required
      1. –Where do you live?
      –On Fifth Street.
      Bad answers:
      –I live in a moderate-sized, two-bedroom apartment, on the south side of the street, where I get the sun in the living room every morning, which, you know, is very pleasant for my cat, who loves to sit on the window sill of this apartment and look out onto the park that is directly behind the building which is on Fifth Street between Market and St. Louis.

      2. –Would you decline a tequila?
      Good–No, I'd love one.
      Bad: –atequila

    4. Manner:
      1. Avoid ambiguity and obscurity
      2. Be brief and orderly

  2. Types of Speech Acts

    ( How syntactic structures are put to (semantic) use)

    1. Direct Speech Acts

      Speech Acts Amusing Examples
      Make an assertion There's a dragon in your bed
      Request information What's in your bed?
      Make a request Please take out the garbage
      Make a threat I'll get you for that!
      Give a command Open the window!
      Give a warning Don't bother me!
      Give advice You should come to class more often.
      Make bets I'll bet you can't eat all of it.

      (Remember that performative language can only be direct.)

    2. Indirect Speech Acts

      Speech Act Amusing Examples
      Assertion Did you know there's a dragon in your bed?
      Request information I have no idea what that is in your bed.
      Make a request The garbage is still in the kitchen.
      Make a threat You wouldn't want your nose broken, would you?
      Give a warning Maybe you should take a look in your bed.
      Give advice Maybe you should occasionally attend class.
      Make bets 5$ says he'll say 'Trust me'.

      1. What are these questions indirectly?
        1. Can you open the window, please?
        2. Do you wanna lay money on it?
        3. Is the lecture interefering with your conversation?
        4. Do you want to fight about it?

      2. Here are two imperatives. What are they indirectly?
        1. Open the door and I'll give you some candy.
        2. Open the door and I'll bash your head in.

  3. Schemas and Scripts

    (Setting and semantics combine)

    1. Schemas
      1. a set of expectations
        1. The waiter . . . .
        2. The fire hydrant . . . .
        3. The family cat . . . .

      2. Spreading Activation Network

        RESTAURANT script
        maitre d'hotel
        show to table
        give menu
        expect tip
        lean back
        table cloth
        salt & pepper
        take order
        a la carte
        complete dinner
        luncheon menu
        breakfast menu
        ask about water
        bring order
        leave on table
        complain to


  4. Conclusion
    The semantic interpretation of utterances is made in the context of a particular speech act. This context often determines which of several possible interpretations apply to an utterance. It is possible to describe the speech act in predictable detail. The setting is also important for proper semantic interpretation of the utterance, not only because of deictic structures (this/that, here/there), but also because of schemata associated with the setting.

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