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Chapter 6

ANT253H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Critical Discourse Analysis, Stephen Levinson, Socalled

Course Code
Marcel Danesi

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Chapter 6
Pragmatic: primarily used to indicate the study of the meanings and uses of linguistic forms
in their communicative and interactional contexts of use.
o Charles Morris is the person starting applying the term to aspects of language
o Paul Grice added the notion of maxims as the basis for the study of
conversational pragmatics.
Grammatical and lexical choices in conversations are NOT governed strictly by rules of
grammar, but by rules of communication and by maxims.
o Complete sentences are not necessary in Q & A situation. (see example in
o Conversations are not guided solely by linguistic competence but also, and more
pointedly, by communicative competence (Dell Hymes).
6.1 conversation
For our conversation, it constitutes a pragmatic form of knowledge known as
communicative competence.
o The ability to use language appropriately in specific interactive setting is
o It has an effect in shaping and even changing linguistic competence.
A simple protocol such as making contact with sb requires a detailed
knowledge of the appropriate words and nonverbal cues that will enable
a speaker to be successful.
It requires both communicative and linguistic knowledge.
Conversation analysis (CA): to document how people understand and respond to each
other in conversations.
Speech acts (John L. Austin): speaking = a person performs an act (such as stating,
predicting, or warning), and the meaning of the act is to be found in what it brings about.
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6.1.1 conversation analysis
The founding aim of CA is to show that how people talk not only taps into a system of
implicit social rules and patterns, but also shapes and changes the formal language system
o E.g. personal pronouns are viewed as trace devices, serving conversational
needs, which maintain the smooth flow of conversation by connecting its parts
like an electrical network of wires.
o Example:
Sophia went to the mall a few days ago. Sophia ran into an old friend at
the all. “ophia hadt see the fied i a hile. “ophia ad the fied
were thrilled.
Sophia went to the mall a few days ago. She ran into an old friend there.
“ophia hadt see he i a hile. The ere thrilled. anaphoric:
devices that refer back to some word or syntactic category. (here, she
refers back to Sophia, there to the mall, etc.) vs. cataphora
repetition is perceived as hampering the communicative flow.
the language makes available several devices that allow for the same
info to be conveyed w/o the repetition and thus to preserve the flow.
o Subject and object pronouns, locative particles, demonstratives, adverbs, and
other kinds of morphemes, often function as anaphoric and cataphoric devices in
In CA, sentences are studied as text-governed forms, that is, as part of the logical structure
of the text which includes keeping the flow of the conversation smooth and economical.
o In a pragmatic approach to grammar, personal pronouns are seen as trace
devices and repetition-reducing strategies, not only as grammatical forms.
o The choice of pronoun is thus not due to rules of syntax; but to rules of parole
a realization that led to the formation of a branch of linguistic called systemic
linguistics /functional grammar (Michael A. Halliday).
Gambit: used to refer to devices that cohere in various ways within a conversation. It is
used to open a conversation, to keep it going, to repair any anomaly within it, and so on.
o Uh huh… eah… h… aha… hedges: they are devices that allow a listener to
make it known to a speaker that he/she is in fact listening, especially on the
o Its, like, she ee eat it, ou ko, … fillers: allow speaker to gather
his/her thoughts b/f proceeding to the next part of an utterance.
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o You like this, dot ou? tag question: a strategy that is designed to seek
approval, agreement, consent, not an answer.
o May I ask you something? opening gambit for starting a conversation, taking a
run within a conversation, or entering into a conversation.
o She arrived a few hours ago; sorry, I meant a few minutes ago. repair: when
there is a minor breakdown in a conversation, or sth is not explained properly,
repairs allow the speaker to solve the problem.
o Sacks, Jefferson & Schegloff: gambits allow for a conversation to unfold in a
sequential fashion w/ implicit structure that is, as a set of rules that speakers
intuitively utilize as they speak.
The utterances of interlocutors are thus said to form adjacency pairs: e.g.
when sb intervenes w/ an opening gambit, the interlocutor understands
that the speaker wants to enter into the conversation.
The study of conversations has led to the study of texts as units of linguistic analysis rather
than compositions of sentences Conversational texts show that we are sensitive to
sequence structure.
o We anticipate how the forms in a text relate to each other and cohere
sequentially into a message-making system.
Social framing of speech: another area of interest in pragmatics concerns.
o Competitive speech: the language used is typically adversarial.
E.g. 1 “peakes ted to otadit oe aothes oets Thats eall
ot tue, I ouldt sa that; 2 They tend to use hedges to indicate
disset No-o, No a, Not tue; 3 Difference of opinion is
idiated ith diffeet kids of hedges o filles “ue, ut, ae…; 4
Tag questions are used to hallege You dot ea that, do ou?.
o Cooperative speech: the language used indicates that the speakers are inclined
to work together to produce shared meanings.
E.g. 1 “peakes ted to uild upo eah othes oets Thats tue,
I agee; 2 They tend to use well-placed hedges to indicate consent
Uh-huh, Yeah, “ue, ‘ight; 3 Disagreement is rare, and when it
surfaces, a difference of opinion is negotiated with various hedges
Yeah, ut, ae…; 4 Tag questions are used often to ensure consent
You agee, dot ou?.
Phatic function (Robin Lakoff): speakers regularly refrain from saying what they mean in
many situations in the service of the higher goal of politeness or cooperation in its
broadest sense, that is, to fulfill one of the primary social functions of conversation.
6... Gies Mais
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