Intercultural Communication Lecture 4 Conversational Implicature
Inference What you guess Implicature What I hint
How implicature works ‘Do you know the time?’ Sentence meaning (question) Speaker meaning (request) We guess what people mean by referring to certain DEFAULT EXPECTATIONS When people do not fulfill the default expectations They create IMPLICATURE (‘special meaning’ Context of Situation (GOC) Communicative Context (Speech act) Conversational Context (sequencing)
‘Do you know the time?’ What does it mean… On the MTR? Primary school class? University lecture (lecturer)? University lecture (student)? Couple getting ready to go to a concert Customer to waiter Friends having a long conversation
Context of situation Have you eaten? Gao tsou!!! Can you please take off your clothes? Setting (time, place, purpose, genre) Key Participants Message form Sequence
Communicative Context J.L. Austin How to Do Things with Words ‘It’s cold in here.’ Propositional Content Locutionary Force Illocutionary Force Perlocutionary Force ‘We would like to thank customers for not smoking while in this store.’ Speech Event Speech Act
Direct and Indirect Speech Acts Direct speech acts Use verbs that have the meaning of the act (e.g. ‘I promise I will go’) Indirect speech acts Use other ways to perform the speech act ‘Can you come tomorrow?’ ‘I didn’t know I made you angry’ ‘I suggest you get out of my office before I punch you!’
Conditions Not all speakers can perform all speech acts There are certain conditions necessary for an utterance to be considered a certain kind of speech act Felicity conditions
Felicity Conditions Rules that need to be followed for an utterance to work. A promise: I say I will perform an action in the future I intend to do it. I believe I can do it. I think I would not normally do it. I think the other person wants me to do it. I intend to place myself under an obligation to perform the action. We both understand what I’m saying. We are both normal, conscious human beings. Both of us are in normal circumstances. The utterance contains an illocutionary force indicating device.
What’s the difference? I’m sorry. Excuse me. I apologize. We’re sorry to inform you that your application has not been accepted. (bumping into someone on the street) sorry, ah… I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to your cat.
What are the conditions necessary for an apology?
The ‘Letter of the Two Sorries’ Dear Mr. Minister: On behalf of the United States government, I now outline steps to resolve this issue. Both President Bush and Secretary of State Powell have expressed their sincere regret over your missing pilot and aircraft. Please convey to the Chinese people and to the family of pilot Wang Wei that we are very sorry for their loss.Wang Wei Although the full picture of what transpired is still unclear, according to our information, our severely crippled aircraft made an emergency landing after following international emergency procedures. We are very sorry the entering of China's airspace and the landing did not have verbal clearance, but very pleased the crew landed safely. We appreciate China's efforts to see to the well-being of our crew. In view of the tragic incident and based on my discussions with your representative, we have agreed to the following actions: Both sides agree to hold a meeting to discuss the incident. My government understands and expects that our aircrew will be permitted to depart China as soon as possible. The meeting would start April 18, 2001. The meeting agenda would include discussion of the causes of the incident, possible recommendations whereby such collisions could be avoided in the future, development of a plan for prompt return of the EP-3 aircraft, and other related issues. We acknowledge your government's intention to raise U.S. reconnaissance missions near China in the meeting.EP-3 aircraft Sincerely, Joseph W. Prueher
Task Discuss Do you think the ‘two sorries’ in the letter fulfill the felicity conditions for apologies? Why or why not? Do you think this is an example of intercultural miscommunication? Why or why not?
Does ‘Sorry’ mean ‘Sorry’? ‘The firm struggle by the Chinese government and people against U.S. hegemony has forced the U.S. government to change from its initial rude and unreasonable attitude to saying very sorry to the Chinese people.’ The People’s Daily ‘We did not apologize. To apologize would have suggested that we had done something wrong and were accepting responsibility for having done something wrong, and we did not do anything wrong, and therefore it was not possible to apologize, The U.S. expressed ''regret,'' ''sorrow'' and ''very sorry'' over the loss of the young Chinese pilot's life.’ US Secretary of State Powell
Inductive and Deductive Patterns So…because Because…so I can’t come to class next week because I have to go to a funeral. Because I have to go to a funeral next week, I can’t come to class. ‘Inscrutable Chinese’ and ‘Straightforward Foreigners’
Offers Host: Would you like some more dessert Guest: It’s delicious, but I really shouldn’t have any more… Host: OK
X ‘requires’ Y If Y does not occur, it is heard as ‘officially absent’ creating implicature ‘given the first, the second is expectable; upon its occurrence it can be seen to be the second item to the first; upon it’s non- occurrence it can be seen to be officially absent ’ -Schegloff 1968 ‘Preferred responses’ Conditional Relevance
Creating Implicature A: I love you. B: I love you. A: I love you. B: … A: I love you. B: Thank you.
Creating Implicature A: I’m sorry. B: … A: Hi, my name is Rodney. B: Hello.
Paralinguistic Cues Used to express emotion or ‘meta-message’ Used to manage conversations Turn taking Framing Face relationships Conversational style Habitual patterns of managing conversation among a group
Intonation in English Falling (finality, certainty, statement, end of turn) Rising (non-finality, uncertainty, question, more to come) Rise-Fall (reservation, not sure) ‘Yes’
L1 Transference Prosody for ESL Speakers Russians: flat level tones English speaker may assume that they are bored or rude Middle Easterners tend to speak more loudly May mistakenly be considered more emotional Japanese are soft-spoken Stereotype of Japanese as ‘polite’ Cantonese: Syllable-timed rhythm May sound angry or nervous Difficult to interpret emphasis
Backchannel Cues Japanese use 3x more than Americans (Maynard) American Whites use more than American Blacks (Erickson and Shultz) German use 4x as many as Mainland Chinese (Günther) White Americans use three times as many as Mainland Chinese (Tao and Thompson) Chinese Americans use more than Mainland Chinese and less than White Americans (Tao and Thompson) Problems with such findings Be skeptical of categories
Backchannel cues More-----------------------------------Less Japanese German Am. White Am. Black Am. Chinese Chinese
Timing Length of pauses New Yorkers and Californians Power Powerful (short) Less powerful (longer) Relationships Solidarity (short) Deference (longer) Problems with ESL speakers
Complementary Schismogenesis When people’s different styles lead each other to exaggerate their own style the more you do X, the more I do Y The closer you try to get to him, the more he avoids you The less you talk, the more I talk The more you get upset when I interrupt you, the more I interrupt you
Silence ‘The Silent Finn’ Proverbs Listen a lot, speak little One mouth, two ears If you can’t avoid speaking, drink as much as possible Longer conversational pauses Minimal backchannel Little facial expression Prefer not to be first speaker
Apache Indians Silent in Encounters with people who haven’t seen each other for a long time Encounters where one person is emotional or angry Situations of loss or tragedy
Role of Questions Questions from authority figures Doctors and probation officers Athabaskans The purpose of questions is to get listener to think about what he/she has done wrong Doctor: Have you been eating a lot of sweets? Patient: (silence)
Researching Interdiscourse Communication Collecting spoken data Methods of recording Ethical issues Transcription