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Maxims of Conversation

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1 Maxims of Conversation
Deny A. Kwary, S.S., M.Hum

2 The Cooperative Principles: Maxims of Conversations (Grice, 1989)
Name of Maxim Description of Maxim Quantity Say neither more nor less than the discourse requires Relevance Be relevant Manner Be brief and orderly; avoid ambiguity and obscurity Quality Do not lie; do not make unsupported claims

3 Examples: 1. I’m a multimillionaire (Actually, I’m penniless.)
Violated maxim: Quality Explanation: The speaker has failed to tell the truth. 2. A: When am I going to get back the money I lent you? B: Boy, it’s hot in here! Violated maxim: Relevance Explanation: B’s answer is not related to A’s question. 3. A: What should I do to get rid of this headache, Doctor? B: Take some medicine. Violated maxim: Quantity Explanation: B has not provided enough information.

4 Exercises Don’t be silly. I love working 80 hours a week with no vacation. Quality 2. 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 $89.00. Quantity 3. A: What’s playing at the Rialto tonight? B: A film you haven’t seen. Relevance 4. Dr. Smith received his Ph.D in 1986, his B.A. in 1980, and his M.A. in 1982. Manner

5 Speakers sometimes deliberately violate the rules of ordinary conversation to achieve certain ends
Example: 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!

6 Exercises: 1. 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 A. 2. 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

7 3. 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. 4. 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

8 Materials for Final Test
Grammatical vs. Ungrammatical Syntactic categories Tree diagram Ambiguity Semantic features Lexical relations Thematic roles Sentential relations Idioms Maxims of conversations

9 THANK YOU Deny A. Kwary, S.S., M.Hum

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