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Pragmatics. Pragmatics Pragmatics can be defined as the study of how speakers use the sentences of a language to effect successful communication.

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Presentation on theme: "Pragmatics. Pragmatics Pragmatics can be defined as the study of how speakers use the sentences of a language to effect successful communication."— Presentation transcript:


2 Pragmatics

3 Pragmatics can be defined as the study of how speakers use the sentences of a language to effect successful communication.

4 The study of language in use.
The study of meaning in context. The study of speakers’ meaning, utterance meaning, & contextual meaning. .

5 Pragmatics is different from traditional semantics in that it studies meaning not in isolation but in context.

6 Semanticists take meaning to be an inherent property of language, pragmaticists regard meaning as something that is realized in the course of communication.

7 Some basic notions in Pragmatics
Context Pragmatics vs. semantics Sentence meaning vs. utterance meaning Correctness vs. appropriateness

8 Context Context---- a basic concept in the study of pragmatics. It is generally considered as constituted knowledge shared by the speaker and the hearer, such as cultural background, situation(time, place, manner, etc.), the relationship between the speaker and the hearer, etc.….

9 Pragmatics vs. semantics
Semantics---- is the study of the literal meaning of a sentence (without taking context into consideration). Pragmatics---- the study of the intended meaning of a speaker (taking context into consideration), e.g. “Today is Sunday”, semantically, it means that today is the first day of the week; pragmatically, you can mean a lot by saying this, all depending on the context and the intention of the speaker, say, making a suggestion or giving an invitation…

10 Sentence Meaning Utterance Meaning
It is context-dependent. It is the product of sentence meaning and context. Therefore, it is richer than the meaning of the sentence. It is intended meaning of a speaker; It is the abstract context-independent entity, It is literal meaning of a sentence

11 For example, “The bag is heavy” can mean
a bag being heavy (sentence meaning); an indirect, polite request, asking the hearer to help him carry the bag; the speaker is declining someone’s request for help. Note: The meaning of an utterance is based on the sentence meaning; it is the realization of the abstract meaning of a sentence in a real situation of communication, or simply in a context; utterance meaning is richer than sentence meaning; it is identical with the purpose for which the speaker utters the sentence.

12 Correctness vs. appropriateness
*“John play golf”---- grammatically incorrect; ?“Golf played John” ---- logically incorrect; but it might be appropriate pragmatically in certain context. Note: Pragmatics can make sense out of nonsense, given a suitable context. Appropriateness is very important in linguistic communication, especially in cross-cultural communication. If you say something grammatically incorrect, you are at worse condemned as “speaking badly”, but, if you say something inappropriately, you will be judged as “behaving badly”, such as insincere, untruthful, or deceitful. (Thomas, 1983)

13 speech acts: actions performed via utterances
2. Speech Act Theory John Austin ( ) How to Do Things with Words (1962) speech acts: actions performed via utterances

14 Speech act theory originated with the British philosopher John Austin in the late 50’s. According to this theory, we are performing various kinds of acts when we are speaking. It aims to answer the question “What do we do when using language?”

15 Before the speech act theory was advanced, it was believed that the business of a statement is either to describe or to state. It must be either true or false.

16 Austin made the primary distinction between two types of utterances: constative and performative.

17 Constative (叙述句) vs. Performative (施为句)
sentences that do not state a fact or describe a state It is used to perform an action, so it has no truth value, and are not verifiable. statements that either state or describe It is verifiable and it is either true or false.

18 Constative (叙述句) utterances which roughly serves to state a fact, report that something is the case, or describe what something is, eg: I go to the park every Sunday. I teach English.

19 Performative (施为句) utterances which are used to perform acts, do not describe or report anything at all; the uttering of the sentence is the doing of an action; they cannot be said to be true or false. Performative verbs: name, bet, etc.

20 Note: Sometimes they are easy to get confused, e. g
Note: Sometimes they are easy to get confused, e.g.“It is raining outside” can be a constative, and also a performative, for by uttering such a sentence, we may not only state a fact, but involve in the act of informing someone about the rain. The distinction between constatives & performatives cannot be maintained. All sentences can be used to do things.

21 Some Examples of Performatives
“I do” “I name this ship Elizabeth.” “I give and bequeath my watch to my brother.” “I bet you sixpence it will rain tomorrow.”

22 Minister: addressing the groom) (Groom’s Name), do you take
(Bride’s Name) for your lawful wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance, in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love, honor, comfort, and cherish her from this day forward, forsaking all others, keeping only unto her for as long as you both shall live? Groom: I do.

23 (1) “I do.” as uttered in the course of a marriage ceremony.

24 (2)“ I name this ship Elizabeth.”
---as uttered when smashing the bottle against the stern.

25 (3)“ I give and bequeath my
watch to my brother.” --- as occurring in a will.

26 (4) “ I bet you sixpence it will
rain tomorrow.” --- as uttered when making a bet.

27 ***Austin’s new model of speech acts
According to Austin, while making an utterance, a speaker is performing three acts simultaneously: a locutionary act, an illocutionary act, and a perlocutionary act.

28 A locutionary act is the act of saying something; it is an act of conveying literal meaning by means of syntax, lexicon and phonology.

29 An illocutionary act is the act performed in saying something; its force is identical with the speaker’s intention.

30 A perlocutionary act is the act performed by or resulting from saying something; it is the consequence of, or the change brought about by the utterance.

31 For example,“It is cold in here.”

32 For example,“It is cold in here.”
Its locutionary act is the saying of it with its literal meaning the weather is clod in here; Its illocutionary act can be a request of the hear to shut the window; Its perlocutionary act can be the hearer’s shutting the window or his refusal to comply with the request. Note: Of the three acts, what speech act theory is most concerned with is the illocutionary act. It attempts to account for the ways by which speakers can mean more than what they say.

33 ----Analyze one more example: “You have left the door wide open.”
The locutionary act performed by the speaker is that he has uttered all the words “you,” “have,” “door,” “open,” etc. and expressed what the words literally mean. The illocutionary act performed by the speaker is that by making such an utterance he has expressed his intention of speaking, i. e., asking someone to close the door. The perlocutionary act refers to the effect of the utterance. If the hearer gets the speaker’s message and sees that the speaker means to ask someone to close the door, the speaker has successfully brought about the change in the real world he ahs intended to; then the perlocutionary act is successfully performed.

34 Analyze the illocutionary acts of the following conversation between a couple:
----(the telephone rings) ----H: That’ the phone. (1) ----W: I’m in the bathroom. (2) ----H: Okay. (3) This seemingly incoherent conversation goes on successfully because the speakers understand each other’s illocutionary acts: (1)   Making a request of his wife to go and answer the phone. (2)   A refusal to comply with the request; issuing a request of her husband to answer the phone instead. (3) Accepting the wife’s refusal and accepting her request, meaning “all right, I’ll answer it.”

35 Illocutionary Act Theory
John Searle (1932- )

36 Searle also made his contribution to the study of illocutionary speech acts. He specified five types of illocutionary speech acts: 1)representative (陈述) 2)directive (指令) 3)commissive (承诺) 4)expressive (表达) 5)declaration (宣布)

37 The illocutionary point of the representatives is to commit the speaker to something’s being the case, to the truth of the expressed proposition.

38 I think that the film is moving. I am certain that he has come.
Stating or describing, saying what the speaker believes to be true, e.g. I guess that he has come. I think that the film is moving. I am certain that he has come.

39 Directives are attempts by the speaker to get the hearer to do something.
Open the door! Don’t you think it’s a bit stuffy here?

40 ---- Trying to get the hearer to do something, e.g.
I order you to leave right now. Open the window, please. Your money or your life!

41 Commissives are those illocutionary acts whose point is to commit the speaker to some future course of action. When speaking, the speaker puts himself under obligation.

42 I promise to love you!

43 The illocutionary point of expressives is to express the psychological state specified in the propositional content such as apologizing, thanking, congratulating,welcoming etc.

44 I’m sorry for the mess I have made.
It’s very kind of you to have thought of me.

45 ----Bringing about an immediate change in the existing state or affairs, e.g.
I declare the meeting open. I appoint you chairman of the committee.

46 I fire you!

47 Practice 1. When a speaker expresses his intention of speaking, such as asking someone to open the window, he is performing ______. A. an illocutionary act B. a perlocutionary act C. a locutionary act D. none of the above 2. “I now declare the meeting open.” is a (n) ______ A. dieactive B. commissive C. expressive D. declaration A D

48 Practice 3. An illocutionary act is identical with ________.
A. sentence meaning B. the speaker’s intention C. language understanding D. the speaker’s competence 4. The Indirect Speech Act was developed by _____. A. John Austin B. Levinson C. John Lyons D. John Searle B D

49 Practice 5. _______ is a branch of linguistics which is the study of meaning in the context. A. Morphology B. Syntax C. Pragmatics D. Semantics 6. Tautologies like boys are boys and war is war are extreme examples in which the maxim of ________ is violated. A. quality B. quantity C. relevance D. manner C A

50 Practice ( ) A sentence is a grammatical unit and an utterance is a pragmatic notion. ( ) According to Searle’s classification of speech acts, request, order, suggest and advice all belong to the same one general class because they are all intended by the speaker to get the learner to do something. The speech act theory explains the nature of linguistic communication. It says that a speaker, while making an utterance, is performing three acts simultaneously: a locutionary act, an______________ act, and a______________ act. T T illocutionary perlocutionary

51 Practice Consider the following dialogue between a man and his daughter. Try to explain the illocutionary force in each of the utterances. [The daughter walks into the kitchen and takes some popcorn.] Father: I thought you were practicing your violin. Daughter: I need to get the [violin] stand. Father: Is it under the popcorn?

52 Practice The illocutionary force of “I thought you were practicing your violin” is a criticism of the daughter for her not practicing the violin. That of the daughter’s answer is a defense for herself---I’m going to do that. And that of father’s retort is a denial of the daughter’s excuse.

53 ***Principles of Conversation (Paul Grice)
The co-operative principle

54 In making conversation, Grice holds that there is a general principle which all participants are expected to observe. Make your conversational contribution such as required at the stage at which it occurs by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged.

55 The maxim of quantity 1. Make your contribution as informative as required (for the current purpose of the exchange). 2. Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

56 The maxim of quality 1. Do not say what you believe to be false. 2. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

57 The maxim of relation Be relevant.

58 The maxim of manner 1. Avoid obscurity of expression. 2. Avoid ambiguity. 3. Be brief. 4. Be orderly.

59 In real communication, however, speakers do not always observe these maxims strictly. When we violate these maxims, in some situations, conversational implicature will arise.

60 A: Do you know where Mr. X lives?
B: Somewhere in the southern suburbs of the city. (This is said when it is known to both A and B that B has Mr. X’s address. Thus B is withholding some of the information required and is violating the maxim of quantity. The implicature produced is “I do not wish to tell you where Mr. X lives.”) ----A:When is Susan’s farewell party? ----B:Sometime next month.

61 A: Would you like to come to
our party tonight? Violation of Maxim of quality B: I’m afraid I’m not feeling so well today.

62 This is said when both A and B knows that B is not having any health problem that prevent him from going to a party. Thus B is saying something that he himself knows to be false and is violating the maxim of quality. The implicature produced is “ I do not want to go to your party tonight.”

63 A: The hostess is an awful bore. Don’t
you think? B: The roses in the garden are beautiful, aren’t they? (This is said when it is known to both A and B that it is entirely possible for B to make a comment on the hostess, While B is saying something irrelevant to what A has just said, and violating the maxim of relation. The implicature produced is “I don’t wish to talk about the hostess in such a rude manner.”)

64 A: Shall we get something for the
kids? B: yes. But I veto I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M. (This is said when it is known to both A and B that B has no difficulty in pronouncing the word “ice-cream”. Thus B has violated the maxim of manner. The implicature produced is “I don’t want the kids know we are talking about ice-cream”).

65 Practice *** In the following conversation, which maxim(s) does Speaker B seem to violate? And what implicature can arise out of this answer? A: What’s the price of your skirt? B: Pattern is nice.

66 Practice This is said when it is known to both A and B that it is entirely possible for B to tell A the price of his/her shirt. B’s response is thus irrelevant to A’s question. Therefore he/she violates the maxim of relation. The implicature could be “I don’t wish to tell you the price of my shirt.”

67 More practice Each of the following conversational fragments is to some degree odd. To what extent can the oddness be explained by reference to Grice’s CP and maxims.

68 More practice A: Have you seen Peter today?
B: Well, if I didn’t deny seeing him I wouldn’t be telling a lie. In this conversation, Speaker B uses a long and prolix way to express the meaning of “Yes, I have”, thus violating the Manner maxim of “Be brief ( avoid prolixity)”.

69 More practice A: Are you there? B: No, I’m here.
The oddness of this conversation results from the exploitation of Quality maxims in that the speaker B seems to be telling the truth while deliberately misinterpreting Speaker A’s “there”.

70 More practice A: Thank you for your help, you’ve been most kind.
B: Yes, I have. Speaker B’s answer is an instance of exploiting the Quality maxims. Though logically speaking it may be true that Speaker B has been helpful to A, we don’t usually respond to others’ thanks in this way.

71 More practice A: Can you tell me where Mr. Smith’s office is?
B: Yes, not here. On one hand, it is an instance of exploiting the Quality maxims in that Mr. Smith’s office is really “not here”. On the other hand, Speaker B has violated the Quantity maxim of being as informative as is required since A needs more specific information than “not here”.

72 More practice A: Would you like some coffee?
B: Mary’s beautiful dancer. It is an indirect way of declining the offer. In terms of Grice’s maxims, this is a case of not being relevant.

73 More practice A: Has the postman been?
B: He leant his bicycle against the fence, opened the gate, strode briskly down the path, stopped to stroke the cat, reached into his bag, pulled out a bundle of letters and pushed them through our letter box. In this conversation, Speaker B uses a long and prolix way for the simple answer “Yes, he has”, and has thus violated the Manner maxim of “ be brief (avoid prolixity)”.

74 ANTI-theft device for cars
More practice “The Club” is a device for blocking an automobile’s steering wheel, thus protecting the car from being stolen. And one of its ads reads: THE CLUB! ANTI-theft device for cars POLICE SAY: ‘USE IT’ OR LOST IT In terms of the Gricean theory, what maxim is exploited here? Find two Chinese ads of the same type.

75 More practice The main maxim exploited here is the Manner maxim of “Avoid ambiguity”. The two tokens of “it” refer to two different things. Two Chinese ads of similar kind are 买一送一and 要想皮肤好,早晚用大宝.

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