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Lecture Six Pragmatics.

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1 Lecture Six Pragmatics

2 Introduction Definitions:
Pragmatics is the study of how speakers of a language use sentences to effect successful communication. It studies the following topics: deixis (指示功能), speech acts, indirect language, conversation, politeness, cross-cultural communication, and presupposition. (Dai & He, 2002, p. 84) Pragmatics is the study of speaker meaning, contextual meaning, how more gets communicated than is said, the expression of relative distance. (Yule, 2000, p. 3)

3 The origin Semantics Context considered Context unconsidered Pragmatics Traditional semantics

4   Speaker A Speaker B Context Knowledge of language
What has been said before Knowledge about the world Knowledge about the situation Knowledge about each other   Speaker A Speaker B

5 Example: A suggestion Today is Sunday. Demand Request …
(He, 1988, pp. 3-4)

6 Sentence and utterance
The relation: Meaning of a sentence is abstract and decontextualized while meaning of an utterance is concrete and context-dependent. The meaning of an utterance is based on a sentence meaning and the realization of the abstract meaning of a sentence in a real situation of communication. Example: My bag is heavy. (utterance meaning: a statement, indirect or polite request, declining someone’s request for help)

7 Speech act theory Austin’s model of speech acts Speech act theory: a philosophical explanation of the nature of linguistic communication. It aims to answer this question: “What do we do when using language?”

8 Austin’s three speech acts:
Traditional philosopher’s view: true value, state a fact or describe a state of affairs Austin’s “constatives” (述事话语) and “performatives” (行事话语) (Austin’s classical examples: assuring marriage, naming, bequeathing and betting) Three speech acts: locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary (Example: You have left the door wide open. See related part on page 89.)

9 Definitions of the three speech acts:
Locutionary act: act of uttering words, phrases, clauses Illocutionary act: the act of expressing the speaker’s intention Perlocutionary act: the act performed by or resulting fro saying something, the consequence of the utterance

10 Searle’s classification of speech acts
Representatives: stating or describing, saying what the speaker believes to be true. The speaker is making a statement or giving a description which he himself believes to be true. Stating, believing, swearing, hypothesizing are the typical representatives. (I swear) I have never seen the man before. (I state) The earth is a globe.

11 Directives: Trying to get hearer to do something
Directives: Trying to get hearer to do something. Inviting, suggesting, requesting, advising, warning, threatening, ordering are the typical ones. Open the window! You’d better go to the clinic. Your money or your life! Would you like to go to the picnic with us?

12 Commissives: Committing the speaker himself to the future course of action. Promising, undertaking, vowing are the most typical cases. I promise to come. I will bring you the book tomorrow without fail.

13 I’m sorry for the mess I have made.
Expressives: Expressing feelings or attitude towards an existing state. Typical ones: apologizing, thanking, congratulating. I’m sorry for the mess I have made. It’s really kind of you to have thought of me.

14 Declarations: bringing about immediate changes by saying something
Declarations: bringing about immediate changes by saying something. They are like Austin’s classical examples. More examples: I now declare the meeting open. I appoint you chairman of the committee. I fire you!

15 All the acts that belong to the same category share the same purpose but differ in their strength or force. Close the door. Will you close the door! Can you close the door! Do you mind closing the door? I would be very grateful if you could close the door! The door is open! The door please!

16 Principles of conversation and flouting of the conversation maxims
The maxim of quantity Make your contribution as informative as required. No more and no less. The maxim of quality Do not say what you believe to be false and do not say what you lack evidence for. The maxim of relation Be relevant The maxim of manner Avoid obscurity, ambiguity. Be brief and orderly.

17 — (flouting the maxim of quantity)
Flouting of the conversation maxim and revealing conversation implicature A: When is Susan’s farewell party? B: Sometime next month. — (flouting the maxim of quantity) A: Would you like to join us for the picnic on Sunday? B: I’m afraid I have got a class on Sunday. — (flouting the maxim of quality) A: How did the math exam go today, Jonnie? B: We had a basketball match with the other class and we beat them. — (flouting the maxim of relation) A: Shall we get something for the kids? B: Yes. But I veto I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M. — (flouting the maxim of manner)

18 References Dai, W. D & He, Z. X. (2002). A new concise course on linguistics for students of English. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press. He, Z. R. (1988). A survey of pragmatics. Changsha: Hunan Education Press. Yule, G. (2000). Pragmatics. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press. Task Do the following as written exercise: According to Austin, what are the three acts a person is possibly performing while making an utterance. Give an example.

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