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What is contrastive pragmatics?

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Presentation on theme: "What is contrastive pragmatics?"— Presentation transcript:

0 Contrastive Pragmatics: Sociosemiotics and Linguistics of Everyday Behaviour
for 14th Early Fall School in Semiotics “Sociosemiotics” Sozopol, Bulgaria Prof. Dr. Guido Ipsen MA (UK) University of Dortmund - Semiotics D Dortmund Fon: +49-(0) Fax: +49-(0)

1 What is contrastive pragmatics?
Pragmatics studies the relations between signs and their users Signs appear in the speakers’ contexts, but also in linguistic cotexts Linguistic pragmatics explains the ways of verbalisation of these relations, such as: relations between speakers: “politeness theory”, “speech act theory” relations between speakers and their environment: “deixis” relations between speakers and cognitive items: “information structure” Contrastive pragmatics concerns itself with the comparison of these principles between cultures. It is not confined to the study of a certain pragmatic principle. Cultural breakdowns, pragmatic failure, among other things, are components of cross-cultural pragmatics.

2 Names and perspectives
Peirce: The model of Semiosis Goffman: Frame theory Austin/Searle: Speech Act Theory

3 Questions for intercultural contact:
How do we know how to “behave correctly” in situations? Is it sufficient… to know how to translate language? to know how to express intentions and how to form speech acts? Do phonetic/grammatical/lexical/semantic errors create a fiasco in intercultural contact situations? Does correct language enforce the success of contact situations? So: How can we employ semiotics in linguistic research on cultural contacts?

4 The socio-semiotic/linguistic causality chain
First: a situation occurs which requires social interaction between speakers Inquiries, asking questions Encounters, meetings Second: Patterns for the employment of social signs are retrieved by the participants Mimics, gestures, proxemics Third: The reckoning of the social situation governs the employment of linguistic signs Creation of sentences/texts Choice of code, style, etc. Employment of linguistic competence Fourth: Utterances are produced Performance level

5 Example 1: Friendly contact
You are a Bulgarian assistant visiting a British university. On the second day, a senior professor approaches you and involves you in a lengthy discussion. Before you part, he casually mentions: “We should continue this talk; you must come and visit my house and have dinner with us”. How do you react? You decline the offer using polite remarks You accept, but do not fix any details about a possible meeting You accept, take out your agenda and offer some possible dates

6 Example 2: Understanding foreign signs
You are an English tourist visiting the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. On your first evening, you visit a restaurant which offers a menu in English language, however the waiter, a local, only speaks Bulgarian. Lacking linguistic means for communication, you point at various dishes on the menu, but the waiter keeps shaking his head. How do you react? You leave the restaurant: the menu obviously is a fake You warn the waiter not to make fun of you, using appropriate menacing gestures You follow the waiter’s recommendation and order your meal.

7 Example 3: Committing speech act errors
You are a German student visiting Finland. You make friends and in a friendly atmosphere generously offer your help in case anybody required linguistic advice. The next day, a Finnish friend asks you if you might proofread a German project paper of hers. You are not sure if you can find the time, but you also don’t want to disappoint her. How do you react? You behave very cautiously, saying things like: “I might find the time”, or “I will give you a call about it” You make up your mind instantly and tell her “yes” or “no” You withdraw your previous offer, declaring it was just a manner of speaking with no actual purport

8 First answers Linguistic and social interaction are deeply interwoven. An isolated linguistic analysis of an utterance yields no results about its social effects It is not sufficient to be able to translate “words”: It is necessary to translate “ideas” in social contact situations Intentions, meanings, etc. are manifested in socially grounded linguistic signs which transcend the instance of “word” or “sentence” (lexeme or syntagma respectively) and can only be transpired on the level of the “text”.

9 Intercultural semiosis: Possible symmetries and asymmetries
Peirce: The sign is a relation of… a first (representamen, or “perceptible sign”; its “mental representation”) a second (object, or “experience horizon” for the sign; its “meaning basis”) and a third (interpretant, or the “effect” of the sign; its “actual meaning”) In intercultural communication, the essential question is about the equivalence of the three instances: Do similar representamina represent equivalent objects? Do similar objects exist in the two cultures in question? Does the employment of similar representamen/object references in two cultures result in the same interpretants?

10 Intercultural semiosis: Possible asymmetries
Asymmetry on the level of the representamen: “False friends” German: Ich bekomme ein Steak (I get a steak/ I’ll have a steak) English: *I become a steak Similar or identical signs refer to different objects Asymmetry on the level of the object: “lexical asymmetries” German: gemütlich English: canny, comfortable, comfy, cosily, cosy, homelike, homely, homy, jovial, jovially, placid, snug, snugly, unhurried The object of a word in the source language finds no equivalent object in the target language Asymmetry on the level of the interpretant: “clash of contexts” The question of correct employment of signs in situations E.g., in which contexts to invite/touch/kiss/embrace/approach somebody? Asymmetries on the other levels also cause interpretant asymmetries

11 Intercultural semiosis: Possible symmetries
Symmetry on the level of the representamen/object reference: e.g., “internationalisms” “interlexemes” as abstract units of an interlingual system Symmetry on the interpretant level 1: ”parallel referencing” Different representamina with the same object reference cause similar interpretants different colour codes codes of gestures simple content words, e.g., “car” vs. “Auto” Symmetry on the interpretant level 2: “matching contexts” Different representamina referencing different objects cause similar interpretations intercultural competence

12 Intercultural semiosis

13 Intercultural semiosis

14 Intercultural semiosis

15 Intercultural semiosis

16 More answers Successful intercultural contact depends on successful intercultural semiosis Intercultural semiosis involves the creation of complex networks of signs, i.e., texts, which… may not represent symmetrical linguistic translations BUT should represent symmetrical interpretative structures Intercultural competence requires knowledge of text – cotext – context structures, so-called “frames”

17 Frame analysis: recognising contexts
Erving Goffman “Frame Analysis” Frames are “schemata of interpretation” that allow individuals or groups “to locate, perceive, identify, and label” events and occurrences The individual recognises situations in life according to subconscious knowledge of “frames”, e.g., Visiting a restaurant Quarrelling with the partner Attending a lecture Each frame bears characteristics which render it distinguishable What to say when How to behave where How to bodily act Which other codes to employ (dress, items, etc.)

18 Frame analysis: primary and secondary frames
Primary frames are “real-life” situations with quasi-literal meaning. Secondary frames come into being when primary frames are “played with”, so-called “keying”: A quarrel between partners (primary) A theatre play including a quarrel between partners (secondary) Further keying: A TV program commenting on the theatre play A lecture analysing the TV program commenting on the play Two students mimicking the contents of the lecture analysing the TV program

19 Speech act theory Speech acts are utterances by which the speaker “acts by means of language” There are six kinds of speech acts: Representatives: these represent states of affairs, such as assertions, statements, claims, hypotheses, descriptions, and suggestions. They are commonly regarded as being either true or false. Commissives: these commit the speaker to something, such as promises, pledges, threats, and vows. Directives intend to make the hearer carry out some action: commands, requests, challenges, invitations, entreaties, and dares. Declarations bring about the state of affairs: blessings, firings, baptisms, arrests, marrying, declaring a mistrial. Expressives: these indicate the speaker's attitude, such as greetings, apologies, congratulations, condolences, and thanksgivings. Verdictives make assessments or judgements: ranking, assessing, appraising, condoning.

20 Speech act theory: Constituents of speech acts
Locution. the acoustic utterance that can also be transcribed into phonetic transcription Illocution. the intention to say something. There may be one or more intentions behind the utterance. We say that there are one or more illocutionary acts in the speech act Perlocution. This is the effect of the speech act on the hearer, semiotically: interpretation. two aspects: First, there is the effect that the sender wants to evoke Second, the effect that is finally achieved

21 Speech act theory: Indirect speech acts
Speech acts are governed by four maxims of cooperation: quantity (amount of information) relevance (reference to the context) manner (importance of details within logical and/or chronological order) quality (truth or falseness of a statement). In indirect speech acts, at least one maxim of the speech act is violated. The literal meaning of the locution differs from the illocutionary force conveyed by it. If hearer and speaker both recognize that this is the case, both assuming that they acknowledge this vice versa, they will view their communication as cooperative.

22 Speech act competence in social environments
Language and behaviour (as signs) go together in situations Frame analysis provides patterns of situations Sociolinguistics identifies culture-specific codes of conduct Pragmatics defines speech acts appropriate for situations Contrastive pragmatics with the help of sociolinguistics identifies possible clashes of interpretations in order to provide knowledge for mastering intercultural contacts

23 Ever more answers Speech situations encompass the linguistic and the social (plus cultural) spheres of human interaction Purely linguistic analysis of items, such as words, yields no results as to which speech acts are appropriate in which frames Speech acts are examples of complex texts the appropriateness of which is uncovered by sociosemiotics: when to employ which speech act which speech acts are regarded direct/indirect acts in which culture which other codes to employ in speech situations/frames The reduction of comparative and/or contrastive studies, such as contrastive syntax, does not help to create situation-adaptive texts; despite its enforcement of possibly grammatically correct sentences

24 Thank you! By the way: Visit the MONTHLY SEMIOGRAPH!

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