Presentation on theme: "Pragmatics November 28, 2012. The Light at the End of the Tunnel Today: Syntax homework due! The final homework for the class will be due next Wednesday."— Presentation transcript:
The Light at the End of the Tunnel Today: Syntax homework due! The final homework for the class will be due next Wednesday. …for which you will need to understand the material I am going to go over in today’s lecture. …and also some Semantics (to be discussed in the next two lectures) Note: extra reading on Pragmatics has been posted to the course webpage. Evaluations of instruction will be held at the end of class on Monday.
Sentences vs. Utterances The meaning of a sentence can usually be derived from the meaning of its words (and how they are combined by syntax). However: sometimes, the meaning of a sentence can change depending on how it’s used in a particular context. Sentence: a string of words put together by the grammatical rules of a language. Sentences are abstract idealizations Sentences are not physical events Utterance: the use of a sentence, in a particular context. Utterances are actual, physical events Utterances can derive meaning from context which they can’t derive from their abstract form as sentences.
Sentences in Context Sentence 1: Kim’s got a knife. Context 1: You’re sitting on the beach in Tahiti, trying to figure out how to open a coconut. Someone says: Kim’s got a knife! Context 2: Darrell has just crashed into Kim’s car. Kim gets out of her car, looking angry, with a butcher knife in her hand. Someone says: Kim’s got a knife! In context 1, the sentence provides information. In context 2, the sentence is a warning.
Pragmatics, defined Pragmatics is the study of how meaning is derived from context. Pragmatics is also the study of how language is used in context. The word “pragmatics” is derived from the Greek: /pragma/ “deed” and an even earlier form: /prassein/ “to do”
Speech Acts It turns out that we can use language to do things. When we use language to do something, we are performing a speech act. What can we do with the following expressions? 1.Time out! 2.Shotgun! 3.Jinx! The “meaning” of these expressions is what they do. (i.e., the use we put them to.)
Speech Act Examples Speech acts can also be performed with complete sentences. John read the book.assertion Did John read the book?question Please pass the salt.request Kim’s got a knife!warning Get out of here!order I will love you forever.promise I’ll give you a reason to cry.threat
Performative Verbs There are some verbs whose meaning is the speech act they perform. These verbs are known as performative verbs. I bet you ten bucks the Flames will win. I dare you to leave. I promise to buy you some ice cream. I nominate Batman for mayor of Gotham City. I call shotgun! I resign. I confer on you the degree of Bachelor of Arts. I now pronounce you husband and wife.
Performance Conditions A “performative” verb only performs the action it describes if it’s used: in the present tense with a first person subject Examples: I promise to buy you some ice cream tonight. #John promises to buy you some ice cream tonight. #I will promise to buy you some ice cream tonight. We promise to buy you some ice cream tonight. (# denotes that the utterance of these words does not actually perform the speech act.)
The “Hereby Test” If a sentence sounds fine with “hereby”, it is being used performatively. Examples: I hereby promise to buy you some ice cream. I hereby pronounce you man and wife. I hereby dub thee George. I hereby challenge you to a duel. #I hereby walk around the block. #I hereby sing. Also notice: Smoking is hereby forbidden.
Performance Problems You can’t always perform a speech act by just saying something. Context: A man is speaking to his wife. “I hereby divorce you.” Context: An unmarried couple is talking with a bartender. The bartender says: “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” The conditions which must be fulfilled for a speech act to be carried out properly are known as felicity conditions. Also known as “appropriateness conditions”
Felicity Conditions Quiz Time What are the felicity conditions for the Quick Write speech acts? 1.“Time out!” 2.“Shotgun!” 3.“Jinx!” When someone attempts to perform a speech act when the appropriate felicity conditions have not been met, the speech act is said to be infelicitous.
Felicity Conditions for Questions Speech Act: Speaker asks Hearer about a proposition “P”. Q: Did the Flames beat the Oilers last night? P: The Flames beat the Oilers last night. Felicity Conditions: Speaker doesn’t know P. Speaker wants to know P. Speaker believes hearer knows P. Speaker believes hearer can share information about P.
Sentence Type vs. Sentence Use There are three basic sentence types: declaratives, interrogatives, imperatives Each sentence type is typically used for a certain kind of speech act. Declarative sentences are typically used in assertions. They convey information about what is true and what is false. Examples: LeBron James plays basketball. The dog ate the bone. Linguistics is fun.
Sentence Type vs. Sentence Use Interrogative sentences are typically used in questions. They are used to elicit information from the hearer. Examples: Did the Flames beat the Oilers last night? Is it snowing again? Imperative sentences are typically used in orders and requests. They are meant to affect the behavior of the hearer. Examples: Stop it! Tell me what happened.
Sentence Structure Note that each sentence type has a distinct syntactic structure: 1.Declarative sentence: Subject-Verb-(Object) LeBron James plays basketball. 2.Interrogative sentence: order of Subject and Auxiliary has been inverted. Did the Flames beat the Oilers? 3.Imperative sentence: no explicit subject! Pass the salt!
Direct and Indirect A direct speech act occurs when a particular sentence type is being used to serve its typical function SentenceFunction DeclarativeAssertion InterrogativeQuestion ImperativeOrder/Request Also: the speech act is based on the literal meaning of the sentence. Indirect speech acts may be made whenever a particular sentence type is used to serve an atypical function.
Direct vs. Indirect Speech Acts Direct: Please close the door. Imperative sentence type; order/request Indirect: Do you think you could close the door? Interrogative sentence type; order/request Direct: Did Bart get the job? Interrogative sentence type; question Indirect: I was wondering if Bart got the job. Declarative sentence type; question We use indirect speech acts in conversation all the time. Example: “I would like the roast beef.”
Cheap Attempts at Humor At a crowded airline ticket counter, a harried man rushes to the front of the line and demands: Harried Man: “I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS!” Ticket Agent: “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I have to help these other folks first.” Harried Man (loudly): “Do you have any idea who I am?” Ticket Agent (speaking through PA system): “May I have your attention please? We have a passenger here at the gate WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to the gate.”
Identifying Indirect Speech Acts If a sentence contains a verb that is being used performatively, it is a direct speech act. I promise to buy you some ice cream. If there is no performative verb, identify the sentence type. Declarative, Interrogative, Imperative Determine whether the sentence type has its typical function. If yes: another direct speech act. A helpful criterion: determine how the listener would normally respond to the sentence. Ex: “I would like the roast beef.” #”Oh, that’s interesting!”
Identifying Indirect Speech Acts Are any felicity conditions violated for the literal meaning of the sentence? Ex: “Can you take the garbage out?” Does the asker really not know the answer to this question? If not, why would they ask it? to draw the listener’s attention to the answer. This is an indirect request.
Assignment! For next Wednesday (the 5th), write down two indirect speech acts that you hear (or use) during the course of your everyday conversations over the next week. And explain why they’re indirect speech acts. (more homework details will be forthcoming on Friday)