Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘pragmatics’ Category

Sample papers for Doing the Second assignment (CBS 303 & 500)

Cf. the ways to collect and study the data.

Read Full Post »

CBS 500 講義 10.

言語行為理論

言語行為理論(Speech Act Theory, 簡稱SAT)是由牛津大學教授John Austin于二十世紀30~60年代發展並陸續發表的學說,代表作是Austin (1962) How to Do Things with Words。其後又由美國加州大學伯克利分校教授 John Searle在其眾多的文章和專著中(主要發表於二十世紀六十年代末~二十世紀八十年代末)發揚光大,代表作為Searle (1970) Speech Acts 和 Searle (1975)“Indirect Speech Act”。新近較有影響的專著是Francois Recanati (1987) Meaning and Force. 這裡我們主要介紹Austin:How to Do Things with Words和Searle “Indirect Speech Acts”中的觀點。 Austin (1962) 是根據他的演講記錄整理而成的。他認為,自然語言的句子在使用中,不都是陳述句,還有其他的用法。 相對於陳述語句(constative utterances)和陳述性用法,他提出還有施為語句(performative utterances)和施為性用法。比如在一些典禮儀式上使用的語句,就不是陳述句:

(1) I hereby name this ship Mr. Stalin. (新船命名儀式)

(2) I hereby marry you husband and wife. (婚禮上牧師的司儀用語) 【經考證更準確的說法應該是“I now pronounce you man and wife.”】

上述語句不能用真值條件(truth-conditions, TC)來驗證,只有說話的恰當性條件(felicity conditions, FC)。所謂恰當性條件,按Austin的理解,就是關於說話場合和說話人角色合適與否的問題。比如,(1)只能由貴賓在揭牌時說出來,往往還會同時把一瓶香檳酒打碎在船頭上。(2)只能由牧師在教堂裡主持婚禮時使用,而且要按嚴格程式運用,不能過早。還有,說話人必須是真誠的。不能滿足FC的施為性語句就會像是槍支走火,打不中要害,沒有殺傷力。 如此說來,TC驗證constative utterances; FC驗證performative utterances。Constatives和performatives是兩種性質不同的語句,不可混淆。語言的功用不單單是陳述、描寫世界,而且是以言行事。有些事情只能靠說話才能辦成,這時,說話就是辦事,不可由其他方式來代替。這就是“言有所為”doing things with words的意思。

如果能對施為性語句的語言特徵作更具體的刻畫,就能對其作更清晰的定義。施為性語句的語言形態特徵有哪些呢?英語的施為性語句,通常採用第一人稱單數,一般現在式,主動語態,還有hereby【意為“特此”】這個副詞。但這些特徵都不是必不可少的,在下面的例句裡可以觀察到種種省略式。有時可以用被動式,有時hereby不出現,有時用了now。有時動詞不出現,無所謂是不是一般現在式。有時候用了正在進行式。有時沒有出現第一人稱。似乎唯一無例外的是:陳述式大量使用的過去時制,施為式不用,因為對過去的描述總是具有真值的。(3) I find you guilty as charged (4) War is hereby declared on France. (5) You are hereby invited (to the party)  (6) I appoint you chairman. (7) I declare the meeting adjourned. (8) You are fired (9) I resign. [I quit. 我不幹了。] (10) Two years of imprisonment. (11) Guilty (12) Done (13) Fire. (14) Out. (15) Deal (16) 我現在宣佈第三屆當代語言學圓桌會議勝利閉幕 (17) 現在,法庭進入自由辯論階段。(18)你被開除了!(19)你明天不要來上班了。(20)The bull is charging.(21)有蚊子!(22)I remember what you said. You will pay. 【威脅】對上述各種施為語句的表達格式,加以規範的方式是提出英語的施為語句的標準表達格式是:

第一人稱代詞 + hereby + 言語行為【高階】動詞 + S【次一級的句子,有時完整,有時融入上一層的結構中】

這個格式有時可以省略或變形,但總可以復原成這個標準格式。但這個可能的復原給Austin的理論帶來了顛覆性的危險。如果遇到一個不完整或著非標準的施為性語句,我們必須給它安上一個恰當的言語行為動詞。可是遇到state這個動詞就麻煩了,因為state這個詞可以作為言語行為動詞加到次級句子S前,構成完整的施為性語句。可是能夠為state所述謂的S既可以是隱性的施為性語句,也可以是完整的陳述性語句。這麼一來,施為語句和陳述語句的區別就被抹煞了:任何陳述句都可被復原為以state引導的施為語句。 於是Austin在其著作Austin (1962)的後半部修訂了他的言語行為理論。提出語句的三層言語行為學說。 說話人在發出語句時,首先從事了“言之發”這個言語行為:說出了某個語句,並賦予其字面上的意義。 (a locutionary speech act) 該語句同時還顯示了言外之力(illocutionary act):通過說話而辦事,而且辦的是只能通過說話才能辦到的事情。(an illocutionary speech act) 最後,這個語句還收穫了言後之果(perlocutionary speech act),對語境、對交際雙方的人際關係、知識境界、心理狀態和處事決策造成了某些後果,或多或少地改變了世界! Austin(1962)還將言語行為動詞分成五類,而他的分類及標準都受到了Searle的質疑和大幅度的修訂。

Read Full Post »

CBS 303 Lecture note 9.2

CBS 303 Linguistic Meaning and Contextual Use Lecture 9.2
Propositional Attitude
1. Propositions and Propositional Attitudes

Austin was a philosopher (of language), so is Searle. Yet their studies of speech act theory have been taken over by linguists and gradually evolved into an independent subject called pragmatics in the early 1980s. The term pragmatics was coined by the American philosophers Carnap and Morris in the 1950s, from a semiotic point of view. Not to be confused with the term pragmaticism, which is an American school of philosophy led by William James. Moreover, Austin’s theory was also extensively developed by the German philosopher Jrgen Harbermas in the name of formal pragmatics. A brief introduction of his theory is included here as an appendix.

However, in studies after Austin, different approaches were proposed to deal with the phenomena covered by SAT. It was argued by some that it was wrong to think that every utterance is a performative utterance. Many utterances are qualitatively different from performatives. In fact, illocutionary force is only one type of propositional attitudes. Recall that a sentence expresses a proposition as its explicature and may carry one or more propositions as its implicatures. But in saying something as an explicature, the speaker is always entertaining some attitude towards what he is saying. That is to say, a speaker, when uttering a proposition, always attaches a particular attitude to the proposition. This is what we mean by “propositional attitude”. Basically, it means ‘what do you intend to do with the explicature’ or ‘how do you intend the explicature to be interpreted’.

Here, propositional attitude is a special term, unlike our usual sense of attitude. The former is much much narrower in scope, covering only the way an utterance is to be understood. A propositional attitude has nothing to do with ideology. On the other hand, our usual sense of attitude has a lot to do with personal feelings, social and moral values, cultural background, and political preferences. We can call this usual sense of attitude as ‘ideology’ or ‘ideological ground’. Ideology is certainly a very important concept in pragmatic and sociolinguistic studies. But again we can study the concept in two steps: (a) what ideological elements are manifested in the use of language, (b) the wider ideological context which affects sociolinguistic problems in general. For (a), see Grundy & Jiang (2001a, b) for sample studies.

So what are the propositional attitudes related to speech acts? Speech acts can be classified into several sub-types, each containing a more specific force. The following is a classification given by Searle:

(i) representatives, which commit the speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition (e.g. asserting, concluding, etc.)

(ii) directives, which are attempts by the speaker to get the addressee to do something (e.g. requesting, questioning)

(iii) commissives, which commit the speaker to some future course of action (e.g. promising, threathening, offering)

(iv) expressives, which express a psychological state (thanking, apologizing, welcoming, congratulating)

(v) declarations, which effect immediate changes in the institutional state of affairs and which tend to rely on elaborate extra-linguistic institutions (e.g. excommunicating, declaring war, christening, firing from employment)

We can take the forces given above as expressing particular attitudes. If we agree with Searle’s classification, we can even take the above-mentioned five categories as five types of propositional attitudes.

But there are other types of propositional attitudes which were not traditionally studied as speech acts. Take recipe instructions, for example. Are they performatives? The author wouldn’t know when you do the actual cooking. Then what is the illocutionary force of such an utterance? I think a recipe simply describes a procedure of execution, to be carried out any time or never [someone may read it but never does the cooking]. On the one hand, it does not simply have a force of asserting. On the other hand, its instructive force is not encashed at the moment of utterance. Here are some examples discussed in Blakemore (1992):

(1) Do you remember the man who bought your car? Well, he is doing a first year philosophy course.
(2) Do you see that building over there? Apparently, it’s sinking about a foot a year.

The saying of the first utterance in both (1) and (2) is not to ask for information, but to ensure that certain information is available for the interpretation of subsequent utterances. If we have to give it a label, we may have to call it ensuring.

Suppose I am doing a demo on cooking [as in Yan Can Cook]. At one point, I say:

(3) I now add the milk.

In this case, I am only providing a comment on what I am actually doing. This type of utterance is typical of sports commentary in television.

Suppose that someone has just insulted me and I say:

(4) He is always so nice to me.

This is ironic use: what I say obviously contradicts with what is happening, known to both the addresser and the addressee. Usually, for an ironic use, it also has to be an utterance which is familiar to both parties. Maybe an echo of a similar remark made before this incident. That is to say, an irony often involves an echoic use. Intonation is another key feature of such a use.

As another propositional attitude, when we quote others’ utterances, we can do so in several ways:

(5) John: “I will never be able to hand in the assignment tomorrow.”
(6) Peter: “John said: ‘I will never be able to hand in the assignment tomorrow.'”
(7) Peter: “John said that he would never be able to hand in the assignment the next day.”
(8) Peter: “John did not think he would be able to hand in the assignment the next day.”
(9) Peter: “John did not think he would make it.”
(10) Peter: “John won’t make it.”

The degree of similarity varies, but Peter is always reporting what John said. When Peter is not quoting John verbatim, he is paraphrasing John’s utterance. This is an interpretive use of language. Even for metaphorical uses, we are dealing with interpretive use. Here the truth of the proposition like (11) does not concern us — obviously it is not true. But we understand it to the extent that it bears certain similarity to the person being referred to.

(11) Mrs. X is an old bag.

More generally, a sentence can be a description of some state of affairs in the world. But any description is partial and selective. It cannot take in everything — we cannot even notice everything when observing the world, how can our language ?

So we can take quotation cases as a special case of making statements or reporting, which always involve some degree of paraphrasing. In this light, even (11) involves a propositional attitude, that of reporting. Every utterance, explicitly or implicitly, is necessarily tied to some propositional attitude, without exception. Whenever we speak, we are speaking more or less true to the reality — that is, we are paraphrasing to varying extents, with various perspectives. That is tantamount to saying that every utterance is produced in a propositional attitude. More than that. Every thought is conceived with a propositional attitude.

2. Higher-Order Explicatures

Sometimes, we call propositional attitudes ‘higher-order explicatures’. That is only because propositional attitudes are indeed higher-order in the following sense:

Given a sentence S having an explicature [ES], we represent the propositional attitude related to an S as P [ES]. For example:

(12) The bull is charging. =>

(13) Warning [The bull is charging].

Here, P is a higher-order predicate in the usual mathematical sense. So the explicature of P [ES] is a higher-order explicature.

But what is ‘order’ in the usual mathematical or logical sense ? Suppose we take A as a basic expression/formula, then such an expression is first order [meaning ‘basic object language expression’]. A2 is a second-order formula; (√A)2, a third-order formula, etc. For example, (x + y)2 is second-order. Compared to (x + y), (x + y)2 is a higher-order formula. From the point of view of natural language semantics and pragmatics, we can take embedding as one explicit means of creating higher-order linguistic sentences/propositions. Let us look at some more higher-order examples:

(14) What he said was not true.
(15) It is not true that she had been to the WebCT.
(16) What he said was repetitive.
(17) ‘A table is a table’ is repetitive.
(18) ‘The earth square’ is a lie.
(19) ‘The earth is round is a lie’ is a lie.
(20) ‘That you do not want to write a dissertation on pragmatics’ is a pity.
(21) It is a pity that you do not want to write a dissertation on pragmatics.
(22) That he always ignored others’ feelings is unfortunate.
(23) It is unfortunate that he always ignored others’ feelings.
(24) Unfortunately, he always ignored others’ feelings.
(25) Really, we are not at all happy about that. [A request that the first-order proposition be taken seriously].
(26) You should go to school right now, and that is an order. [not an advice or suggestion or wish]

All the above cases involve the expression of explicit speaker attitude towards what is explicated. The attitudes are varied in content, but they are distinct from first-order descriptions.

If we have an utterance with an implicit illocutionary force, then the force of the utterance needs to be inferred. (12) is a good example, for which we need to infer the higher-order explicature on the basis of the explicature of the utterance, resulting (27):

(27) I warn you that the bull is charging.

In the same light, (28) is subject to different interpretations, in terms of its propositional attitude/higher-order explicature/illocutionary force:

(28) You are leaving

Depending on the intonation of the utterance, it can be a question, an order, a wish, or a mere assertion, all of which are higher-order explicatures.

As an utterance always involves a propositional attitude, the latter is not an implicature but an explicature of a higher-order. Understanding the explicature of an utterance is not enough. One has to also work out its higher-order explicature. Sometimes, proper understanding of the higher-order explicature will prompt one to look for the implicature(s) of an utterance. For example, when one says:

(29) You are the cream in my coffee

interpretive use is involved. This is the higher-order explicature. The addressee will know that he is required to search for similarities between the person mentioned and cream in (an Irish) coffee. What he gets as a result can be an implicature like (30):

(30) You are the best part of my life.

But suppose the addressee takes (29) to be not only interpretive in propositional attitude but also ironic, then he will have to reach (31) as the implicature:

(31) You are the bane of my life.

Natural language contains a group of adverbs that indicate propositional attitudes, as exemplified in the following:

(32) Fortunately, Mao died in 1976.
(33) Hopefully, there will be no deadlines to meet in summer.
(34) Ideally, a university will not have any students.

The last example certainly does not reflect my “attitude”. It is a real example I got when talking to the head of the department where I used to study. In that particular context when he was talking about not having enough time to do research work, it carries some particular implicatures, which can only be obtained after one realizes that (34) is expressing a wish.

Here are some more attitudinal prefixes in English:

honestly, fortunately, frankly, regrettably, sadly, ironically, without being impolite, to put things in a nice way, to put things in a diplomatic way, believe it or not …

Attitudinal adverbs are different from ordinary adverbs [such as increasingly, quickly, charmingly] in semantic interpretation, but not in syntactic positioning in English sentences. Both may appear in the initial position, in the position between the subject and the predicate, or at the end of the sentence. Sometimes, an adverb can be used both as an ordinary adverb and as an attitudinal one, for example, sadly, happily, etc. Ambiguity may arise as a result:

(35) Happily, Mao died in 1976.
(36) Mao happily died in 1976.

Both the above are ambiguous, the other meaning being ‘Mao died a happy man’. If both the meaning are intended, we may have to put it like (37):

(37) Happily, Mao happily died in 1976.

When thinking about Chinese, there are also numerous such uses. Here is an incomplete list of higher-order predicates:

Either in initial position or between the subject and the predicate

可惜、 可憐、幸虧 、幸好 、 最好、 難道、 總不至於 、總不能、不幸、(還)不如、可望、大不了 ……

Only used in initial position

可恨 、希望、難不成、不料 ……

As stated at the beginning, the observations stated here are highly tentative and leave much room for further studies. An important question is the relationship between propositional attitudes and modals, which involves studies in semantics as well as pragmatics and is hardly explored in Chinese.

Exercise:Comment on the propositional attitudes involved in the following examples in blue:

1. Mr. X from Department X is attending a meeting at Department Y and was very unhappy about some measures taken by Department Y in removing his subject. Later, when he learnt about some management problems in Department Y, he smiled and said loudly, “God, I LOVE this department.”

2. When studying as a foreign student, I was a night staff at Claude Gill Bookshop for some time. Once someone paid by giving a 50 Pound note. So I examined it rather closely. At that, the customer was rather unhappy. So she said, “This is a real fake!”

3. In a Safeway supermarket, all the trolleys bear the sign “Stolen from Safeway”.

4. At the door of a bookshop, there is a notice which reads as follows: “We will happily give any shoplifter a free ride down to the police station.”

References:Blakemore, D. (1992). Understanding Utterances: an Introduction to Pragmatics. Oxford: Blackwell.

Clark, W. (1991). Relevance theory and the semantics of non-declarative sentences. Doctoral dissertation. University College, London.

Grundy, P. and Y. Jiang (2001a) Ideological Ground and Relevant Interpretation in a Cognitive Semantics, in Language & Ideology Vol.1: Theoretical Cognitive Approaches, Dirven/Hawkins /Sandikcioglu (eds.). John Benjamins Publishing.

Grundy, P. and Y. Jiang (2001b) The Bare Past as an Ideological Construction in Hong Kong Discourse, in Language & Ideology Vol. 2: Descriptive Cognitive Approaches, Dirven/Ilie (eds.). John Benjamins Publishing.

Jaszczolt, K. (1999). Discourse, beliefs, and intentions : semantic defaults and propositional attitude ascription. Oxford & New York : Elsevier.

Jaszczolt, K. (ed.) (2000). The pragmatics of propositional attitude reports. Oxford & New York : Elsevier.

Sperber, D. and D. Wilson (1995/1986). Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.

盛曉明 (2000) 《話語規則與知識基礎》,上海:學林出版社。

張誼生 (2000) 《現代漢語副詞研究》,上海:學林出版社。

Appendix. A Simplified Overview of Habermas’s Critical Theory 

Jurgen Habermas is a prolific scholar whose works range from sociology to communication, philosophy, pragmatics, and politics. Here we can do no more than outlining the main ideas of his theory related to language use, in accordance with our initial understanding.
In his study of the Post-modern Society, Habermas (Habermas 1989) is aware of the danger of the loss of foundations for democracy, the latter having been the representation of the spirit of bourgeois society. According to him, democracy used to be possible through the public sphere, i.e. a forum at which every individual has the right to voice his opinions. The public sphere as an institution could monitor and legitimate the power of the state via public opinions. However, such a public sphere has undergone structural transformation in the development of the capitalist society. Now the government operates in a bureaucratic and technical manner, making itself impervious to the lay criticisms of the public. The power of the press is minimized as well, being ever made dependent on advertising and often put under the control of the government. So the public power in the form of the government which has been created to serve the public is no longer a public object. It certainly cannot be made to check its own power. Therefore, Habermas asked for the re-creation of a new public sphere that may try to rationalize the exercise of social and political authority. He takes upon himself the task of re-establishing the rationality of human society, following the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment: on what grounds can the human beings co-exist in the same society in a post-modern world? What are the unavoidable norms that regulate their behaviours, that provide the basis of their equality, that makes the society possible? Habermas’s answers came via a surprising route. They were not metaphysical arguments like those of Hegel, Kant, and Husserl. Nor were they constructed as relativist, defeatist arguments like those of Existentialism and Heidegger. The breakthrough came through the study of communicative action, i.e. the fundamental conditions of language use (Habermas 1984, 1987). Revising and developing the views of Wittgenstein and that of the Ordinary Language Philosophers, Habermas proposed his program of universal pragmatics(later named as formal pragmatics), which provides the foundations for his theory of communicative action, which in turn constitutes the backbone of his social theory. According to Habermas, the basic form of rationality and intersubjectivity is to be found in the communicative action, i.e. in our daily use of ordinary language. People communicate with one another in the lifeworld[in its specially defined sense], with unconscious mutual understandings of the norms of conversation, which are revealed only when such conditions are queried counterfactually. If communication breaks down, people can engage themselves at the level of discourse [to be understood in its special sense] to examine and re-establish the validity and veracity of the mode and content of the utterance. Communicative action is to be distinguished from purposive rational action in that the former addresses norms that are necessarily valid while the latter realizes specified goals under given conditions. An emphasis on the purposive rational action leads to the reduction of human activities to mere labour, contributing to the alienation of individuals and dehumanization of the society. The rediscovery of human rationality is to be conducted through the uncovering of normative rules that are unconsciously followed by all the members in the society. Hence, Habermas set out to spell out the constituents of the lifeworld, while at the same time investigating the forms of language use in communication, with a special emphasis on the classification of speech acts. These pragmatic and linguistic researches had repercussions in social, philosophical and political studies, the complex elaborations and reasoning being well beyond the topic of our research proposal here. In brief, such investigations verify the rationality of the human beings as stemming from the rationality of communicative action, which entails the foundation of democracy as the democracy of equal entitlements to discourse. These ideas, together with their extensions, have made Habermas the most important living philosopher and social critic of our time. It is also to be noted that the works of Habermas is but one link in the chain of the new tradition in philosophy and social theory that is now considered as having brought forth the Communicative/Pragmatic Turn of contemporary philosophy, the other contributors being Ardono, Apel, Lyotard, Rorty, etc. (Cf. Raffel (1992), 盛曉明(2000), Morris (2001) ).

BibliographyArens, Edmund. (1994). The Logic of Pragmatic Thinking: From Peirce to Habermas. New Jersey: Humanities Press International.

Cooke, Maeve. (1994). Language and Reason: a Study of Habermas’s Pragmatics. The MIT Press.

Habermas, Jrgen. (1998). On the Pragmatics of Communication. The MIT Press.

Habermas, Jrgen. (1984). The Theory of Communicative Action , Vol. 1: Reason and the Rationalization of Society. Boston: Beacon Press.

Habermas, Jrgen. (1987). The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 2: Lifeworld and System : A Critique of Functionalist Reason. Boston: Beacon Press.

Habermas, Jrgen. (1989). The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Cambridge University Press.

Hohengarten, William Mark. (1991). Language Games versus Communicative Action: Wittgenstein and Habermas on Language and Reason. Vols. I & II. Doctoral Dissertation: Northwestern University.

Horster, Detlef. (1992). Habermas: an Introduction. Translated from German by Heidi Thompson. Philadelphia: Pennbridge Books.

Loo, Andrew. (1994). The Chinese Sages as Communicative Actors. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Hawaii.

Morris, Martin. (2001). Rethinking the Communicative Turn: Adorno, Habermas, and the Problem of Communicative Freedom. State University of New York Press.

Outhwaite, William. (1994). Habermas: a Critical Introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Raffel, Stanley. (1992). Habermas, Lyotard and the Concept of Justice. Houndmills et al.: the Macmillan Press.

Rasmussen, David. (1990). Reading Habermas. Oxford: Blackwell.

Rorty, Richard. (1980). Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Oxford: Blackwell.

Searle, John. (1969). Speech Acts: an Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge University Press.

Searle, John. (1979). Expression and Meaning : Studies in the Theory of Speech Acts. Cambridge University Press.

Searle, John. (1983). Intentionality : an essay in the philosophy of mind. Cambridge University Press.

White, Stephen. (ed.) (1995). The Cambridge Companion to Habermas. Cambridge University Press.

Read Full Post »

CBS 303 Lecture Note 9.1

CBS 303 Linguistic Meaning and Contextual Use 

Lecture Note 9.1

Speech Act Theory
0. Preambles

The topic to be considered in this and the following lectures form both the older and the newer theme in pragmatic investigations. Older because it was, and sometimes still is, studied within a theoretical framework called the Speech Act Theory (SAT), which was conceived by John Austin between 1930s and 1950s with a posthumously edited book published in 1962 (Austin 1962). The study of speech acts forms the bulk of pragmatics in the 1970s and 1980s. Topics related to speech acts received newer treatments under the more general name of propositional attitude, e.g. in Sperber & Wilson (1995/1986), Clark (1991) and Jaszczolt (1999, 2000). As a result, there is a vast amount of literature and very diversing proposals. The story presented here is necessarily eclectic and contains much room for further revisions. The older concerns with SAT is discussed in this chapter, while studies on propositional attitudes are covered in the next chapter.

1. Performative Utterances

It was in Austin’s monumental work (Austin 1962) as well as in his earlier papers (Austin 1961) that the notion of performative utterance was proposed and investigated. According to Austin, we use language not just to make statements but also to perform deeds directly. For example, a king declaring war with another state; a priest marrying a couple; a VIP naming a ship; a judge issuing an order, a verdict, a sentence; anyone giving a promise, the permission of doing sth., a warning; or the act of betting, pledging, firing a person, etc., etc:

(1) The King: I hereby declare war on France.

(2) The Priest: I hereby marry you husband and wife. [But note Urmson’s footnote in Austin 1962] {The right form is “I pronounce you man and wife”.}

(3) Distinguished Person: I hereby name this ship Queen Victoria.

(4) Policeman: I order you to disappear in five seconds.

(5) Judge: I sentence you to 2 years of imprisonment.

(6) I promise to talk about cognitive semantics next week.

(7) I warn you that you are talking too much in the classroom.

(8) I bet you six hundred dollars that the recruitment is another fake.

In all the above cases, things are done through producing utterances, and no alternative acts can be taken instead. That is, you cannot get these things done without producing these utterances. Therefore, these utterances are called performative utterances by Austin or simply performatives, in contrast to constative utterances, or constatives, the latter being used as statements, typically as descriptions of states of affairs. According to Austin, constative utterances are evaluated by truth conditions(TCs) — whether an utterance is true (to the fact) or not, but performative utterances are evaluated only in terms of felicity conditions(FCs) — whether an utterance is appropriate or not. There are different versions of FCs, [Cf. (Levinson: 1983) for details on the version given by Austin, and the one given by J.R. Searle ]. In Austin’s version, FCs include the issuing of an utterance by the rightly-appointed person, on the right occasion, who must issue his utterance with the right wording, in the right order and be sincere about its content. So FCs are highly conventional and culture-specific.

But what are the conventional forms of a performative utterance ? Austin first thought that the conventional form in English constitutes the following ingredients:

a. the use of first person singular pronoun as subject
b. the use of simple present tense, i.e. in imperative mood
c. the use of the word ‘hereby’
d. active voice

However, there can be many exceptions ignoring some or all of the requirements given above:

(9) War is hereby declared on France.

(10) You are hereby invited to the party.

(11) Referee to a football player: Out!

(12) Bidder at an auction: Done.

(13) Judge: 2 years.

(14) Member of a jury: Guilty.

(15) I will talk about cognitive linguistics.

To salvage these non-standard forms, Austin argued that we can always recover the standard forms by prefixing some “shortened” utterances with “I hereby + performative verb” while converting some other “non-standard forms” into such a form.

But there is a snag, as discovered by Austin. What are performative verbs ? Besides the more “standard” performative verbs such as “naming”, “declaring”, “sentencing”, etc, should we also count in “stating”, “saying” and “asking” ? But these verbs possess the defining features of constative utterances. If we do, every utterance can be converted into a performative. So there is probably not that big a difference between performative and constative utterances.

Revising his theory, Austin proposed that there is a performative element in every utterance. Any utterance can be described as a combination of three speech acts simultaneously performed: a. a locutionary speech act: the issuing of the utterance, with its sentential meaning, including the assignment of reference to pronouns, etc. b. an illocutionary speech act: an act performed in saying something. That is, doing things with the utterance and bringing about certain consequences because of the utterance, c. a perlocutionary speech act: an act performed by saying something. That is, any effects or follow-up happenings incurred after the utterance.

Locutionary speech act, defined by Austin as the act of saying something, involves the uttering of a sentence, giving meaning to all the linguistic expressions in the sentence as well as the sentential meaning, including the assignment of reference to pronouns and definite expressions.

Illocutionary speech act, defined by Austin as the act performed in saying something, brings about a happening that can only be carried out by words. Therefore, besides saying things, an utterance can also carry some force — the power of changing things. That is why the term illocutionary force is often used in the literature of pragmatics.

Perlocutionary speech act, defined by Austin as the act performed by saying something, talks about the follow-up actions as a result of the illocutionary speech act. It is in many times beyond the control of the speaker. If I order someone to shoot another person, the ordering act takes effect immediately, as this is an illocutionary act. But the addressee may shoot, or he may refuse to shoot — these are possible perlocutionary effects, a term often used in preference to perlocutionary speech act. Rarely are the circumstances in which the speaker has the perlotionary effects completely within his control. For one instance, if a country declares war on another, the effect is that the two countries will be in a warring state. The other country cannot refuse to have war with the former country. For another instance, it is said that in countries with Islamic customs, a husband can divorce his wife simply by saying for three times ” I divorce you”. After that, the perlocutionary effect is that the two are divorced.

2. Indirect Speech Acts

The person who contributed most to the study of speech acts after Austin is J. R. Searle. Here we only introduce his study of indirect speech acts. Searle (1975) observes that there are utterances which carry two illocutionary forces, e.g.

(16) Can you pass the salt ?

In (16), what the speaker is superficially doing is to ask a question, but what he is actually doing, at a dinner table, is to issue a request for someone to pass the salt. So we have two illocutionary forces here: asking about one’s ability and requesting. The former is an explicit illocutionary force; the latter, implicit. But it is really the implicit illocutionary force which is what the speaker wants to convey. So the implicit illocutionary force is the primary illocutionary force, while the explicit force is the secondary illocutionary force. Searle called such an ambivalent utterance an indirect speech act. It should be noted that (16) can sometimes be used just for the purpose of asking for information, e.g. to a person who has just recovered from a broken arm. In that case, it would only have one illocutionary force and would not be an indirect speech act. However, if (16) is used for requesting, it would be inappropriate for the addressee to simply answer ‘yes’ while not doing anything. Another complexity is that one can reply to (16) both/either as a request and/or as a yes/no question:

(17) Yes. [Passing the salt.]
(18) Yes I can. [Passing the salt.]
(19) Here you are. [Passing the salt.]
(20) Of course. [Passing the salt.]
(21) With pleasure. [Passing the salt.]
(22) Of course I can. [Passing the salt.]
(23) Yes, of course. [Passing the salt.]
(24) !Sorry I can’t.
(25) ?Sorry I can’t reach it.
(26) ?Why can’t you do it yourself?
Needless to say, with a usual speech act (i.e., a direct speech act) there is no point in talking about primary and secondary forces.

Other examples:

(27) Would you mind passing the salt ? [not asking about a mental state but issuing a request]

(28) Could you kindly pass the salt ? [not asking about one’s ability but requesting a favour]

(29) Would you mind terribly if I ask you to pass the salt ?

(30) If you can get me some cigarettes. [not stating a conditional but requesting a favour]

Searle thought that people use indirect speech acts so as to put things in a more polite way. An indirect speech act is less face-threatening than a direct one. We can even say that its illocutionary force is somewhat weakened. The addressee would have a less sense of being ordered about, and the speaker, if turned down, would also feel less uneasy. Searle pointed out that the more people use these indirect speech acts, the more they get used to them, so these expressions get conventionalized and idiomatic as time goes by. People would go directly for the primary but implicit illocutionary force and would fail to notice the other force. But then, the politeness element may also gradually lose its charm. For example, to say (31) – (33) would even carry the implicature that you should have known that already as a matter of truism. The speaker may appear condescending, rather than polite.

(31) Would you mind not talking to each other during the lecture ?

(32) Would you mind coming to the class on time ?

(33) Would you please stop smoking in the bus ? There are other people around !

Indirect speech acts are conventionalized, so they may differ from language to language. It is not likely that new forms come into being in large numbers, but here is a newer form:

(34) If you can work on this project. [not stating a conditional but issuing a command]

According to Searle, indirect speech acts have some identifying features for people to recognize the primary illocutionary force. For example, the use of past form for the modal verbs, i.e. could, would, and the use of polite words such as ‘please’, ‘terribly'(mind), etc. These are called illocutionary force indicating devices, shortened as IFIDs. Languages differ a lot in this respect.

References:Austin, J. L. (1961). Performative Utterances, in J.O.Urmson and G.J. Warnock (eds.) J.L. Austin: Philosophical Papers. Oxford University Press. First Edition 1961, Second Edition1970. Originally a transcript of an unscripted talk delivered in the Third Programme of the B.B.C. in 1956.Austin, J. L. (1962). How to Do Things with Words. Edited by J.O. Urmson. Oxford: Clarendon.

Clark, W. (1991). Relevance theory and the semantics of non-declarative sentences. Doctoral dissertation. University College, London.

Jaszczolt, K. (1999). Discourse, beliefs, and intentions : semantic defaults and propositional attitude ascription. Oxford & New York : Elsevier.

Jaszczolt, K. (ed.) (2000). The pragmatics of propositional attitude reports. Oxford & New York : Elsevier.

Levinson, S. (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge University Press.

Searle, J. (1975). Indirect Speech Acts. In P. Cole & J. Morgan (eds.) Syntax & Semantics. Vol. 3: Speech Acts. New York: Academic Press. 59-82.

Sperber, D. and D. Wilson (1995/1986). Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.

楊玉成 (2002)《奧斯汀:語言現象學與哲學》,北京:商務印書館。

Read Full Post »

1. Network of Meaning in Communication

As discussed in the previous lectures, utterance meaning can be either explicit or implicit, involving varied types. The expression of meaning and its comprehension in communication are complicated as a result. Meaning in communication is not automatically given, unlike the simpler matter of encoding and decoding a telegraphic signal. Instead, it is obtained through inference, as the surface meaning is always underdetermined. Through inference in the context of utterance, making use of our knowledge of language and the world, our memory of past experiences, and abstract, unconscious rules of mental computation, we obtain utterance meaning in different shades, all of which expressible as individual propositions. In this connection, we also need to bear in mind that meaning in communication is always subject to different interpretations in different contexts. A sentence uttered on one occasion may be intended to convey its explicature meaning. But when uttered at a different circumstance, it may be intended to convey an implicature, whose interpretation is anchored to the particular situation of utterance. Moreover, the sentence uttered may carry some specific propositional attitude or presuppositions.

Utterance meaning is never static. It is emergent, dynamic, needing to be “negotiated” between the parties involved in the communicative act. As a side remark, Chinese provides a lot of idioms related to the production of utterance meaning, which partially reflect the indirect nature of verbal communication:

旁敲側擊、棉裡藏針、指桑罵槐、話裡有話、虛以委蛇、敷衍了事、言不由衷、敲山震虎、微言大義、寓意深長, etc, etc.

Nevertheless, there is rationale behind. The varieties of utterance meaning form a system, which humans employ at ease, with no need for special training or specific knowledge. People have no difficulty in understanding one another, in spite of the underdeterminate nature of communication. Producing and understanding utterances happen instantaneously, involving no conscious effort. Misunderstandings are minimal compared to the majority of successful communications. These are only possible if there are underlying principles beneath our ease of verbal communication. Only that they need to be discovered.

How do we make pragmatic inference? What are the principles in pragmatic inference? Beginning from this lecture, we introduce some findings related to these questions.

2. Grice: Logic and Conversation

In this lecture, we talk about Grice’s theory of conversation. Paul Grice taught philosophy at Oxford from 1938 to 1967. Later he moved to America, to U.C. Berkeley, where he was professor of philosophy until his death in 1988. Grice’s ideas were published gradually as individual papers, e.g. Grice (1975). In 1989, after his death, some important works were published as a book, Studies in the Way of Words. Grice’s direct contribution to pragmatics is his famous paper, “Logic and Conversation”. First published in 1975, it was part of his William James Lectures — also titled Logic and Conversation — delivered at Harvard University in 1967. [The whole lectures were included as part I of Grice (1989).] In that paper, Grice proposed the famous theory of conversation, which contained three inter-related parts: the Cooperative Principle, the Maxims of conversation, and the notion and types of implicature. Here are the main details:

The Co-operative Principle (CP)

Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose and direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged.

The Maxims of Conversation

1. The maxim of quantity:
(i) Make your contribution as informative as is required for the current purposes of the exchange.
(ii) Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.
2. The maxim of quality: Try to make your contribution one that is true
(i) Do not say what you believe to be false.
(ii)Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.
3. The maxim of relation: Be relevant
4. The maxim of manner : Be perspicuous
(i) Avoid obscurity of expression.
(ii) Avoid ambiguity.
(iii) Be brief.
(iv) Be orderly

For Grice, the exact details of the CP and the maxims are tentative in nature. But they were drafted to reflect the general nature of human verbal communication. When we talk to each other, it is assumed that the above principle and maxims are being unconsciously followed by both the talking parties. This assumption makes our communication effective and reliable to a great extent.

Certainly, we can either ignore the CP or flout the maxims. Failing to observe the CP will lead to unwillingness to communciate, cheating, or irrational behaviour. Examples can be (A) A government official, when stopped by news reporters, openly refuses to answer the questions, (B) As a patient, I may decline to answer the irrelevant questions from the garrulous dentist by pointing to my fully stuffed mouth, (C) A man suffering from mental disorder may talk in an abnormal way, (D) Cheating, which does not need illustration.

Flouting the maxims of conversation ostensivly, yet still observing the CP is a more interesting case, which happens in communication very often. Yet the detection of such a case does not make us conclude that the speaker is doing something irrational because we still have good reason to assume that the CP is being observed. Since the speaker knows that the hearer will detect such a flouting act, and S knows H knows S knows H will detect it, the hearer has to conclude that the speaker is intending to convey something extra: a conversational implicature. To be more exact, a particularized conversational implicature. [Due to time constraint, I omit discussions on other types of implicature, some of which were later labelled as explicature by people working in relevance theory. Note that the notion of explicature was never used in Grice’s theory. ] Here are Grice’s own words:

“He[the speaker] may flout a maxim; that is, he may blatantly fail to fulfill it. On the assumption that the speaker is able to fulfill the maxim and to do so without violating another maxim (because of a clash), is not opting out, and is not, in view of the blatancy of his performance, trying to mislead, the hearer is faced with a minor problem: How can his saying what he did say be reconciled with the supposition that he is observing the overall Cooperative Principle? This situation is one that characteristically gives rise to a conversational implicature; and when a conversational implicature is generated in this way, I shall say that a maxim is being exploited.”

We know from our previous discussions on implicature that it involves the process of deriving proposition q from p, q being the implicature and p, the explicature. Now we know that this process is a case of pragmatic inference, which not only makes use of p as a premiss, but also the CP and knowledge of the observation or flouting of the conversational maxims. The inferential process was described by Grice as follows:

“I am now in a position to characterize the notion of conversational implicature. A man who, by (in, when) saying (or making as if to say) that p has implicated that q, may be said to have conversationally implicated that q, provided that (1) he is to be presumed to be observing the conversational maxims, or at least the Cooperative Principle; (2) the supposition that he is aware that, or thinks that, q is required in order to make his saying or making as if to say p (or doing so in those terms) consistent with this presumption; and (3) the speaker thinks (and would expect the hearer to think that the speaker thinks) that it is within the competence of the hearer to work out, or grasp intuitively, that the supposition mentioned in (2) is required.”

“The presence of a conversational implicature must be capable of being worked out; for even if it can in fact be intuitively grasped, unless the intuition is replaceable by an argument, the implicature (if present at all) will not count as a conversational implicature; it will be a conventional implicature. To work out that a particular conversational implicature is present, the hearer will rely on the following data: (1) the conventional meaning of the words used, together with the identity of any references that may be involved; (2) the Cooperative Principle and its maxims; (3) the context, linguistic or otherwise, of the utterance; (4) other items of background knowledge; and (5) the fact (or suppoesed fact) that all relevant items falling under the previous headings are available to both participants and both participants know or assume this to be the case. A general pattern for the working out of a conversational implicature might be given as follows: ‘He has said that p; there is no reason to suppose that he is not observing the maxims, or at least the Cooperative Principle; he could not be doing this unless he thought that q; he knows (and knows that I know that he knows) that I can see that the supposition that he thinks that q is required; he has done nothing to stop me thinking that q; he intends me to think, or is at least willing to allow me to think, that q; and so he has implicated that q.'”

What is the nature of CP? It is unconscious, tacitly taken for granted by the communicators. Grice thought that it may be some kind of social convention.

Grice’s theory of conversation had a tremendous impact on the study of language use. No wonder that Grice has often been considered as the father of modern pragmatics.

Assignment:

Read Grundy (2000) on the relevance issue and think about examples illustrating Grice’s theory, especially how the flouting of each maxim can lead to the generation of implicatures.

References

Grice, Herbert Paul. (1989a). Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Grice, Herbert Paul. (1989b/1967). Logic and Conversation. In Grice (1989a), 22 – 40. First published in Peter Cole & Jerry Morgan (eds.) (1975) Syntax and Semantics, Vol. 3: Speech Acts. New York: Academic Press. 41 – 58.

Grice, Herbert Paul. (1989c/1987). Retrospective Epilogue. In Grice (1989a), 339 – 385.

Read Full Post »

NB: Lecture Note 7 On Presupposition was distributed in class

Implicature

1. From What is said to What is Implicated

As we establish the explicature of an utterance, we obtain the complete entailment meaning of the sentence being uttered. But utterance meaning does not stop at explicature. Often, one gets what is said, but he may also get some other meaning which is a proposition different from the proposition entailed by the original sentence. This other meaning may well be what the speaker intends the hearer to get. Here are some examples:

(1) School Pupil: Can I have a look at that book ?
Shopkeeper: There are no pictures in it.

(2) 本書主要採用的還是傳統語法和結構主義的分析方法,重實效而不追時髦也是本書的特色。〔周一民《北京口語語法》〕

(3) Translator to Linguist: We treat language as a live thing. We do not take it apart and put it under microscope. We do not study language in vacuum.

(4) 這個班的同學水平不一樣。考試的時候,有的同學做了一個半小時就交卷了,有的同學做了兩個多小時還沒有交卷。

(5) A: So what are you doing this summer ?
B: I will join my mother at Cornell, where her husband is working.

(6) A: Well, this is not Mozart.
B: I know!

(7) A: So many people got killed.
B: War is war.

(8) 泉自幾時冷起,峰從何處飛來?
泉自冷時冷起,峰從飛處飛來。

In the above cases, it is not (only) the literal meaning that the speaker wanted to convey. Each underlined utterance conveys an extra proposition or more which is not entailed by the original sentence. Since this type of extra proposition is not given explicitly, it is implied. But to call it ‘implication’ would be too loose a term. So H.P. Grice called it ‘implicature’. Implicatures are subject to change in different contexts. What appears in one context may not appear in another. Although implicatures are part of the indirect meaning of an utterance, they are ostensive. That is, the speaker knows the hearer can recover the implicature, given the context and the sentence. And the hearer knows that the speaker knows that the hearer can get it. And the speaker knows the hearer knows that the speaker knows that the hearer can get it. It is part of the intended meaning. Of course, sometimes, due to failure in communication, the hearer may fail to get the implicature. We talk about some possible reasons later. But here is an examples:

(9) A: So can you give a talk on 6th of April, in the afternoon.
B: Well, I have to teach for four hours on Thursdays and don’t finish until 4:30pm.
A: We start at 4:30, then.

2. Further Issues

But the real issues involved are (i) why do we get certain implicatures related to a particular context? Why not others ? (ii) when do we expect to get an implicature in communication? i.e., How can we tell if an utterance contains an implicature or not ? (iii) when do we know we’ve got all the implicatures and can stop searching for extra ones ? What are the searching mechanisms ? What are the contraints on the searching mechanisms ? (iv) Are there sub-types of implicatures ? In fact, (iii) and (iv) apply to the study of explicatures as well.

These questions involve different and competing pragmatic theories, which we will look at later. Such examinations will greatly increase our understanding of implicatures and pragmatics in general. Our present examination of implicature can only serve as a preliminary sketch.

Read Full Post »

The first 30 minutes will be devoted to the discussion on presupposition in Chinese. Lecture notes will be distributed in class.

For the remaining time, a 90 min open-book test will be administered. NB: no internet consultations and no discussions during the test.
For essays, please be reminded of the deadline.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »