• 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
• 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).
• For our conversation, it constitutes a pragmatic form of knowledge known as
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. 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.
▪ Sophia went to the mall a few days ago. Sophia ran into an old friend at
the mall. Sophia hadn’t seen the friend in a while. Sophia and the friend
▪ Sophia went to the mall a few days ago. She ran into an old friend there.
Sophia hadn’t seen her in a while. They were 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… yeah… hmm… 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 never meant it, you know, … fillers: allow speaker to gather
his/her thoughts b/f proceeding to the next part of an utterance.
2 o You like this, don’t you? 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
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 Speakers tend to contradict one another’s comments (“That’s really
not true,” “I wouldn’t say that”); 2 They tend to use hedges to indicate
dissent (“No-no,” “No way,” “Not true”); 3 Difference of opinion is
indicated with different kinds of hedges or fillers (“Sure, but, maybe…”); 4
Tag questions are used to challenge (“You don’t mean that, do you?”).
o Cooperative speech: the language used indicates that the speakers are inclined
to work together to produce shared meanings.
▪ E.g. 1 Speakers tend to build upon each others’ comments (“That’s true,”
“I agree”); 2 They tend to use well-placed hedges to indicate consent
(“Uh-huh,” “Yeah,” “Sure,” “Right”); 3 Disagreement is rare, and when it
surfaces, a difference of opinion is negotiated with various hedges
(“Yeah, but, maybe…”); 4 Tag questions are used often to ensure consent
(“You agree, don’t you?”).
• 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.
6.1.2. Grice’s Maxims
3 • conversational maxims: an implicit set of principles of human interaction that make
people enter into conversations in the first place.
o Maxim of quantity: (i) this asserts the interlocutors tend to make their message
as informative as required for the purposes of the exchange; and (ii) that they
generally do not make it more informative than required.
o Maxim of quality: this asserts that interlocutors expect the contents of an
utterance to be true, because (i) people tend not to say what they believe to be
false, and (ii) they will likely not say something for which they lack adequate
o Maxim of relation or relevance: this asserts that interlocutors enter into a
conversation because they believe that it will be relevant.
o Maxim of manner: this asserts that interlocutors will tend to be perspicuous by
(i) avoiding obscurity of expression, (ii) avoiding ambiguity, (iii) being brief, and
(iv) being orderly.
o Grice also pointed out that most of the meanings that are built into
utterances are implicit, rather than explicit. = conversational implication
▪ How could people understand the meaning of answer that seem to be
irrelevant to the question? Inferential reasoning based on a common
purpose/set of purpose.
6.1.3. speech acts – the central one for CA
• The central idea in all of the speech act theories is that linguistic structures are sensitive
to situations, including the social status of the speakers, their ages, the intent of each
one, the goal of the conversation, and so on and so forth.
• Speech acts allow people to carry out social functions.
o Locutionary, the act itself of saying something and in which things are said with a
specific sense (“The moon is a sphere;” “My name is Mark;” “She said, ‘You can’t
go out tonight. It’s my birthday’.”).
o Illocutionary, an utterance that indicates the speaker’s purpose in saying
something—asking and answering questions, giving information, assurance,
identifying, promising, ordering, and so on (“I’ll do it, sooner or later;” “Come
here!” “She protested against what I said”).
o Perlocutionary, an utterance that produces sequential effects on the feelings,
thoughts, or the actions of interlocutors or else conveys a speaker’s own
emotional state (“I’m sorry;” “Don’t worry;” “Go ahead, tell me everything;”
“She stopped me, bringing me around”).
o Each of these acts can be broken down further as follows:
▪ Representatives, utterances that commit the speaker to something:
stating, concluding, representing, deducing (“I will do it for you”).
▪ Assertives, statements of fact so as to get an interlocutor to form or
attend to a belief (“What the President said is a fact”).
▪ Effectives, statements designed to change something (“You’re fired”).
4 ▪ Directives, attempts by the speaker to get an interlocutor to do
something: command, offer, invite, ask, request, beg, permit, dare,
challenge (“Just do it”).
▪ Commissives, utterances committing the speaker to some future course
of action: promise, pledge, threaten (“Only a few days to go”).
▪ Expressives, utterances revealing the psychological state of the speaker
toward something: thank, congratulate, apologize, condole, deplore,
welcome (“Your music is amazing”).
▪ Declarations, utterances connecting propositional content (assumptions
in the utterance) to reality: appoint, resign, nominate, pronounce (“I am
leaving this job because of what I said to you”).
▪ Quotations, utterances reporting someone else’s speech (“She said that
she was coming too”).
• Speech acts are units of conversation providing a connection to social life. They don’t
explain conversations; rather, they allow us to refer to their functions or their intents in
6.2. communicative variables
• Phatic function: speakers may refrain from saying what they desire for reasons of
politeness or cooperation in its broadest sense, that is, to fulfill one of such primary
social functions of conversation.
• Goffman: our utterances often make “a claim of sorts on the attention of everyone in
the social situation,” and that each situation is grounded in cultural presuppositions that
reveal themselves through the language used.
• Dell Hymes: identified 8 basic variables/main components that shape communicative
o S = setting and scene: the time, place, and psychological setting of a
o P = participants: the speaker, listener, audience involved in a conversation
o E = ends: the desired or expected outcome of the interaction
o A = act sequence: the sequence in which the parts of a conversation unfold
o K = key: the mood or spirit (serious, ironic, jocular, etc.) of the speech act
o I = instrumentalities: the dialect or linguistic variety used
o N = norms: conventions or expectations about volume, tone, rate of delivery
o G = genres: different types of performance (joke, formal speech, sermon).
6.2.1 modeling communication
• Roman Jakobson: The model identifies the main functions and constituents of
communicative competence in a comprehensive way, allowing the sociolinguist to
examine these in contexts and with the usual research tools of the field.
o There are 6 main constituents that make up verbal communication:
5 ▪ an addresser w