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Paul Grice’s Theories, Term Paper Example

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Introduction

This paper covers Paul Grice’s theories including speaker’s meaning and conversational implicature theory. Conversational implicature entails conversational maxims and cooperative principle. Maxims generate implicatures as we will see in the examples where we can have one violating a maxim or flouting it. We also talk of conversation maxims, which can convey  quality or truthfulness, information, manner and relation. Conversational implicature misconceptions do occur where an audience take the speaker to mean what he or she did not imply. We also consider differences between conversational implicature and conventional implicature. In this short paper, there are going to be valuable examples to clarify on the points articulated.

Cooperative principles

The principles that guide the exchange of communication and guide the determination of the employment of language in the attainment of coherent communication with maximum efficiency.

Endeavored to make a conversation contribute in the required manner at the time it occurs by acknowledging the purpose or the direction of the conversation (Lycan, 2012).

The Maxims of Conversation

Maxim of quality or truthfulness

Strives to ensure that what is said is true and the evidence to support the same is adequate.

  • Raul has two houses

The implication here in the context of the maxim of quality is that there is certainty that Raul has two houses.

Maxim of quantity or informativeness

Ensures that the contribution to the conversation is informative to the required purpose of the conversation. The contribution, on the other hand, should not exceed the required informative level.

  • Paul: Who is invited?
  • Ken: Peter, James, Ann, Smith and Robin.

The implication of Ken is that Peter, James, Ann, Smith and Robin are the only people invited given that the response guided by the maxim of quantity. The assumption is that all information regarding the question is provided (Grice, 1989).

Maxim of the relation

Requires that the information provided within the conversation should be relevant to the context.

  • What is the time?
  • The sun has gone down.

In this scenario, the implication is that it is after sundown in order to satisfy the maxim of relation.

Maxim of manner

Emphasizes articulateness and ensures the avoidance of obscurity of expression and that of ambiguity in the conversation.

  • X: How do I get the engine started?
  • Y: Turn the key, turn the power lever and push the red button.

The manner the question is answered implicates that the details are necessary and therefore consistent with the maxim of manner.

Brings about the orderly attributes a conversation must posses.

Adhering the cooperative principle and these maxims ensure that the information in the conversation is relevant, truthful, unambiguous and delivered in an articulate manner

Using Maxims to Generate Implicatures

Observing the maxims

The response to an utterance should be both informative and relevant to the utterance, but it should not be too informative contained unnecessary information. The response must connect to the initial utterance.

X: I am hungry.

Y: There is a hotel around the corner.

Y’s answer is relevant to the question and contains just relevant information; therefore, it observes the maxim of relevance.

Violating a maxim

X:  How many people are in attendance?

Y:  Around 15 people.

The response is less informative, but, on the other hand, the response conforms to the maxim of quality where the response must have sufficient evidence. The implicature in this instance is that Y is not certain of the number of people in attendance (Grice, 1989).  Violating a maxim is usually a result of conflicting maxims.

Flouting maxims

Flouting a maxim is a deliberate contravention of a maxim where the utterance does not meet the requirements of a maxim.

X: How old are you?

Y: The weather is lovely.

The utterance by Y violates the maxim of relevance, as it lacks connection with the expected response.

X: That product is a locally produced.

Y: No way we do not have sufficient know how to make it.

The utterance by Y violates the maxim of quality as evidence to support the utterance is lacking.

The Theory of the Speaker’s Meaning

According to Grice is that the meaning of utterances based on the semantic intentions with a focus on communications. The meanings of utterances classified into two categories

  • The natural or noncognitive meaning
  • The clouds mean it is going to rain.

In this scenario the meaning cannot be self contradictory as the implication here is that the ultimate result is rain.

  • The nonnatural or communicative meanings.
  • The light means it is time to go.

The light does not necessarily implicate that it is time to go for the light might be on and yet it is no time to go. The scenario can be self-contradictory in the circumstance.

The central concepts of Grice, theory are the intention of the communication. Carston (2002). The casual account also does not consider the meaning of the speaker and only takes into account the standard meaning. The reflective intention account that encompasses the introduction of the intention, the addition of a reflective intention and the connection of the intention to the desired effect preferred.

Conversational Implicature

Conversational implicature makes a distinction from what the speaker literary says to what the speaker succeeds in putting across (Lycan, 2012). The pragmatic inferences not tied to any phrases or words, but emanates from an understanding of the utterances and contextual factors of the conversation.

  • Peter: How is the weather going to be in Paris?
  • Mary: You should pack a raincoat.

The conclusion by Peter is that it is going to be rainy in Paris although Mary did not explicitly say so but from the implication in her response, the conclusion is that it is going to be rainy.

Misconceptions of Conversational Implicature Theory

Sentences have implicatures

The concept that sentences have implicatures and, therefore, the speaker implicates things in their utterances. Founded on the idea that the implications often portrayed with the help of numbers, which often linked with the agents instead of the actions they are. When someone says something that is true, but do not necessarily implicate the same to be true and can make implications to falsify the utterance.

Implicatures are inferences.

The inference of the speaker always confused with the implications of the speaker. Audience can misinterpret the implications of the speaker to mean something else apart from the real implications of the speaker. The audience can make an inference from an implication from the speaker in which the speaker did not intend.

Maxims of conversations.

Misconception that these maxims apply only to implicatures. Maxims provide diverse dimensions of the considerations in which the speaker taken on the intended meanings by the hearer (Chapman, 2009).

Differences Between Conventional Implicature and Conversational Implicature

The reality of a conventional implicature is dependent on the existence of a conventional device; conversational implicature is not reliant on that.

  • He is rich and polite.
  • He is rich but polite.

The use of but seems to implicate that there exists a contrast between rich and polite. The conventional meaning of a sentence goes beyond the conversation and incorporates other conventional devices. The devices in conventional implicature play a vital part in the meaning of the utterances of the speaker (Lycan, 2012).Conversational implicature in the other hand laid more emphasis on said utterances rather than that meant.

Conventional implicatures

  • Noncancellable
  • Conventional
  • Not calculable
  • Detachable
  • The passengers were worried.
  • At least two of the passengers were worried

The second statement detaches the other passengers.

  • Determinate and conveyed by say.

Conversational implicatures

  • Calculable
  • Nondetachable
  • Carried by the act of speech
  • Cancellable
  • There is a gas station down the street but there is no gas.

The later part of the sentence cancels the first part.

Conclusion

The theories of speakers meaning and conversational implicature are so crucial in communication. Maxims can generate implicatures that can be relevant or irrelevant in conversations. Thus, we ought to observe care when responding so as to give the right implication in conversations or else we face misconceptions. We should pay close attention to speaker’s intentions so as to avoid any contradictions, which may lead to misconceptions.

References

Carston, R. (2002). Thoughts and utterances: the pragmatics of explicit communication. Oxford.

Chapman, S (2009).  Paul Grice: Philosopher and Linguist. Palgrave Macmillan.

Grice, H. P.  (1989). Studies in the Way of Words. Harvard University Press.

Lycan, W. G. (2012). Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction. Taylor & Francis.

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