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PRAGMATICS-COURSESHEET 1

DANIELA SOREA: Pragmatics some cognitive perspectives


2012 -ISBN: 978-606-8366-33-3. Contemporary Literature Press, The University
of Bucharest, in conjunction with The British Council, and The Romanian
Cultural Institute, online publication http://editura.mttlc.ro/sorea-pragmatics.html

Before the 1st lecture it is advisable that you should watch this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rs6O77SkIOo

L as social action context, L use, intention, identity of and relationship between L


users,

Language is a system of symbols which we know and use


(Robert Stainton)

3 different perspectives:
1. L as a (self-sufficient, self-standing) system of symbols governed
by rulesthe province of SYNTAX
2. L as a relationship btw symbols and known concepts the
province of SEMANTICS
3. L as meaningful acts as intended by L users, according to their
specific communicative goals the province of PRAGMATICS

The meaning of a linguistic expression is given by its use, its being used with a
specific intention, under certain circumstances, pursuing a certain goal.
Its meanings reside in what the expression does for a S and a H in a given context.

Duranti and Goodwin (1992) emphasize four parameters of context,


1) the setting or the socially situated framework of the verbal encounter
2) the use of body stances and behavioral trends during the verbal encounter
3) the co-text, the verbal exchanges prior to of subsequent to the ongoing
conversation (Duranti and Goodwin 1992: 5).
4) background knowledge of communicators, consisting of attitudes and beliefs,
values and norms, which enables Lg users to derive meaning out of the verbal
exchange.

L is used in a multiplicity of ways AUSTIN: Instead of saying smth a speaker may


be doing smth: performing an action , engaging in a SPEECH ACT.
SPEECH ACTS include:
ask a Q//give an order//get engaged or married//make bets and
promises//congratulate//warn//apologise//curse//protest//toast//thank//rank and
classify//argue and hypothesize//appoint//baptize

What the speaker does/performs by using language may be a successful or a failed


speech act. If the speaker manages to make the hearer understand their intention
correctly, then the speech act is happy or successful or FELICITOUS. If the speaker
fails to make his intention/communicative purpose clear to the Hearer, then the speech
act is unhappy or INFELICITOUS.
The CONTEXT plays a significant role in relation to a SA being felicitous or
infelicitous.

Are the illocutionary acts involved in each of the following situations felicitous or
infelicitous (assuming normal everyday criteria)?
a. Waiter to customer: I dont like this food!
b. Contest official to winner: Im sorry I gave you the prize money.
c. Customer to waiter: Ive had enough, thanks.
d. Victor to loser: I give up!
e. Prospective picnicker to his friends: I promise to bring only stale food to the
picnic.
f. One zoo worker to another: Can I carry that elephant for you?
g. Father to child: You can stay up another hour.

3 facets of a SA:

3. the speaker says something that makes sense in a L = the locutionary act (what is
said)
4. the S signals an associated speech act = the illocutionary act (what is meant)
5. the SA causes an effect on the H = the perlocutionary act (what is intended to be
effected)

The ILLOCUTIONARY ACT (or simply the ILLOCUTION) carried out by a speaker
making an utterance is the act viewed in terms of the utterances significance within a
conventional system of social interaction.
One way to think about the illocutionary act is that it reflects the intention of the
speaker in making the utterance in the first place.
Illocutions are acts defined by social conventions, acts such as accosting, accusing,
admitting, apologizing, challenging, complaining, condoling, congratulating,
declining, deploring, giving permission, giving way, greeting, leavetaking, mocking,
naming, offering, praising, promising, proposing marriage, protesting, recommending,
surrendering, thanking, toasting.

Example
Saying: Im very grateful to you for all you have done for me performs the
illocutionary act of thanking, which appears to be the speakers intention in making
the utterance.

The illocution of an U does not depend on the sentence type declarative, interrogative,
or imperative.
A declarative is NOT always A STATEMENT, AN INTERROGATIVE IS NOT
ALWAYS A QUESTION, AN IMPERATIVE IS NOT ALWAYS AN ORDER.
The locution (semantic content+syntactic) form only partially indicates the illocution
(the meaning intended to be conveyed). The illocution largely depends on the context
in which the conversation takes place.

Identify sentence type and illocution in the utterances below:


(1) Lady at ticket office in railway station: Id like a day return to Morecambe,
please
Sentence type: declarative Illocution: requesting or ordering

(2) Speaker at a meeting on a hot political issue: Is it right to condone bribery?


Sentence type: .................................... Illocution: .................................................

(3) The Duke of Omnium, to his butler, who sees to his every need: Its cold in here,
Hives
Sentence type: .................................... Illocution: .................................................

(5) Biology teacher: Note that the female cell has two X-shaped chromosomes
Sentence type: .................................... Illocution: .................................................

The PERLOCUTIONARY ACT (or just simply the PERLOCUTION) carried out by a
speaker making an utterance is the act of causing a certain effect on the hearer.
Ex: If I say Theres a hornet in your left ear, it may well cause you to panic, scream
and scratch wildly at your ear. Causing these emotions and actions of yours is the
perlocution of my utterance.

The perlocution of an utterance is the causing of a change to be brought about,


perhaps unintentionally, through, or by means of, the utterance (Latin per through, by
means of) . The point of carefully distinguishing the perlocutionary aspect of the
speech act from others is that perlocutions can often be accidental, and thus bear a
relatively unsystematic relationship to any classification of sentence types.

Describe at least two possible perlocutionary effects of each of the utterances


in the following situations. We have done the first one for you.
(1) Neighbour to recently bereaved widow: I was so sorry to hear about
your loss
Possible effect: Awareness of her grief floods back into hearers mind and she begins
to weep.
Another possible effect: Hearer, expecting the utterance, gives a prepared reply:
Thank you. It was a shock, but I must get used to it.
(2) Lecturer to student: Youll find the book on Swahili infinitives quite fascinating
..........................................................................................................................
(3)
Child to playground supervisor: Miss, Billy just swore at me. He told me to piss off
..........................................................................................................................
(4)
One chess player to another: I just made a bad move
..........................................................................................................................
(5)
Policeman to man in street: Good evening, Sir. Do you live around here?
..........................................................................................................................