By: Maria Kasmirli
Published: Aeon, https://aeon.co/ideas/what-we-say-vs-what-we-mean-what-is-conversational-implicature
Level of Difficulty: **
BEFORE YOU READ
· PHILOSOPHY - Language: Conventional Implicature [HD]
1. You are reviewing reference letters; which would you be more likely to view favorably:
· For a position as a caregiver: She is a very kind and thoughtful person/ She is a very efficient and sensible person
· For a position as a teacher: He is kind and thoughtful / He is efficient and sensible
2. Explain in your own words the reasons for the answers you gave for the first question.
3. Listen to the following short talk on the Gricean maxims: https://vimeopro.com/user13420562/academic-skills-videos/video/49169517 You are travelling in remote region of a conservative country. You are talking to a local tribesman. You ask: How many children do you have? He answers two but in fact he has two sons and three daughters. Is the tribesman flouting the Gricean maxims? Why or why not?
4. Somebody asks you what kind of a person your colleague is and you answer “He is a very nice person”. Which maxim are you flouting? Explain.
5. You are interviewing a politician. You ask: how do you plan to improve the economy? The politician answers by giving a long explanation about the importance of a strong economy. Which Gricean maxim is being flouted?
6. You are a hiker and you are in the mountainous region of Eastern Anatolia. You come across a shepherd and ask him if there is a village nearby. He answers that it is a little further on. You later discover it is 10 km away. Why did the shepherd answer the way he did?
7. Refer to the example given in question 4. How could the implicature in this statement be cancelled?
8. Listen to the following poem: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/i-wandered-lonely-as-a-cloud-daffodils/ What was Wordsworth’s purpose in writing the way he did?
9. One of the first things rape victims are asked by their lawyers is whether they explicitly said “No”. Actually saying “No” rather than “leave me alone” or “I want to go home” prevents any issues with…..and thus leaves no room for misunderstanding
Write an essay in which you discuss the following question from the text: “Are we responsible for what we implicate as well as what we actually say?”. Defend your standpoint and remember to give concrete examples
WHAT WE SAY VERSUS WHAT WE MEAN: WHAT IS CONVERSATIONAL IMPLICATURE? KEY AND TEACHERS’ NOTES
This text introduces Paul Grice’s conversational maxims, discusses them at length and provides examples. It also raises an interesting dilemma which is addressed in the writing task. Due to the way the text has been written, the questions include examples which are not in the text.
1. The first for the caregiver, The second for the teacher
2. In the case of the caregiver, the second implies that the person does the job well and but is not necessarily a people person whereas the first stresses that the person is a people person but not necessarily efficient. It is more important for a caregiver to be kind and thoughtful because the rest can be taught. In the case of the teacher, the ideal would be for the candidate to have all four qualities but the implication in the first that statement is that he is not necessarily efficient and this quality needs to take precedence.
3. No he isn’t because what he says is in fact true; what he fails to explain is that he has two sons and three daughters. Knowing the social context would help the listener correctly grasp the implication.
4. Quality. This is an example of what is called damning with faint praise and it means that the colleague is lacking professionally.
6. To show cooperation ; he spends his life roaming the mountains with his flock and his dogs and we must assume he feels 10 km is walking distance
7. By adding a statement like “He is also very efficient, or experienced” for example.
8. To generate rich indeterminate implicatures
9. Conversational implicature