Good Example Of Presuppositions And Conversational Maxims Of Grice Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Conversation, Semantics, Distinction, Definition, Context, Development, Quality, Pragmatics

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/02/26

Presuppositions

Presuppositions are situations that have to exist in order for utterances to be meaningful (Fromkin, Rodman, & Hyams, 2003). They, moreover, are of two main types: the first is pragmatic presuppositions, and the second is semantic presuppositions.
Pragmatic presuppositions purely consist of the actions of a speaker. They include linguistic interaction preconditions, such as knowledge that we speak the same language; turn-taking norms in dialogue; and more specific information about goals and plans in conversation. As for semantic presuppositions, they deal with the conventional facets of the meanings of particular lexical items and grammatical features, known as triggers.

A number of presupposition triggers have been identified by linguists:

Definite descriptions: These are descriptions that consists of the definite article the followed by a noun phrase, as in the phrase the man with one eye. Such trigger presupposes that the referent exists.
Factive verbs: These are verbs that presuppose something is true or happened, such as regret in the sentence John regrets he ate Jane’s apple.
Implicative verbs: These are verbs that imply a particular state or action. For example, the verb forgot in the sentence He forgot to lock the door presupposes that he should have locked the door, or that he intended to do so.
Change of state verbs: As the term suggests, these are verbs that presupposes a change of stage. For example, the verb stopped in She stopped eating presupposes that she had been eating.

Questions: Questions presuppose the seeking of something.

Possessive case: The use of the possessive case presupposes that a thing is or was possessed.
Counterfactual conditionals: These are conditionals that presuppose the opposite, as in If I had studied, I wouldn’t have failed.
Conversational Implicatures
Grice (1975) states that conversational behavior has particular norms that conversational participants mutually know and adhere to. Such norms keep conversations from being merely a sequence of unrelated remarks. Moreover, in each stage of a conversation, such norms make particular aspects of the conversation unsuitable. Grice terms the effect of these norms the cooperative principle, which he specifies in what he terms maxims of conversation, divided into four categories: quality, quantity, relation and manner. In summary, the maxim of quality is concerned with the truth of an utterance, the maxim of quantity with the informativeness of an utterance, the maxim of relation with the relevance of the utterance and the maxim of manner with the clarity of the utterance.
Although Grice does not give the definition of conversational implicature as such, he (1975) does make an attempt to characterize it. However, his “characterization” is regarded as so dense that major reference works and textbooks have attempted to unscramble it to some extent while staying as close as possible to the gist of what he says. Hirschberg (1985), for example, who criticizes Grice’s definition, develops a definition that is richer in order to fill the gaps, yet, at the same time, she remains aligned with the clauses of Grice.
Grice (1975) distinguishes between two types of conversational implicatures: particularized conversational implicature (PCI) and generalized conversational implicature (GCI) saying:
Particularized conversational implicatures are cases in which an implicature is carried by saying that p on a particular occasion in virtue of special features of the context, cases in which there is no room for the idea that an implicature is normally carried by saying that p. But there are cases of generalized conversational implicature. Sometimes one can say that the use of a certain form of words in an utterance would normally (in the absence of special circumstances) carry such-and-such an implicature or type of implicature. (pp. 37-40)
Thus, according to Grice, PCIs hinge heavily on the context of the conversation and on speakers’ background presumptions. When the context or presumptions change, the implicature changes or is eliminated entirely. Thus, it is incorrect to say that an implicature is related to a specific form of words or with an expression of particular content. Such is not the case, however, with GCIs, which typically occur when a specific form of words is employed. Furthermore, a careful distinction must be drawn between GCIs and conventional implicatures. Although GCIs might appear to arise by default, they are in no way related to the conventional senses of the words in a particular utterance. (Blome-Tillmann, 2013). This is evident in the fact that GCIs possess all the indicators of conversational implicatures in that they can be cancelled and calculated but cannot be detached. Although relevance theorists hold tha there is no theoretically significant distinction between PCIs and GCIs (Carston, 2004), it is clear that according to Grice (1975) there is: one of degree as opposed to one of category.
The following diagram, adapted from Sadock (1978) succinctly sums up Grice’s theory of meaning, including the concepts of PCI and GCI:

Types of Implicatures

WHAT IS CONVEYED
WHAT IS SAID WHAT IS IMPLICATED
CONVENTIONALLY NON-CONVENTIONALLY
CONVENTIONAL
IMPLICATURE
CONVERSATIONALLY NONCONVERSATIONALLY
GENERALLY PARTICULARLY
CONVERSATIONAL CONVERSATIONAL
GENERALIZED PATICULARIZED
IMPLICATURE IMPLICATURE

References

Blome-Tillmann, M. (2013), Conversational Implicatures (and How to Spot Them). Philosophy Compass, 8: 170–185. doi: 10.1111/phc3.12003.
Carston,R. (2004). Truth-conditional content and conversational implicature. In Bianchi, C. (ed.) The Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction. CSLI. Stanford University, 65-100.
Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., & Hyams, N. M. (2003). An introduction to language. Boston: Thomson/Heinle.
Grice, H. P. (1975). Logic and Conversation. Syntax and Semantics 3: Speech Acts, eds. P. Cole & J. Morgan, pp. 41-58. New York: Academic Press. Reprinted in H.P. Grice 1989b, pp. 22-40.
Hirschberg, J. (1985). A theory of scalar implicature (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
Sadock, J. M. (1978). On testing for conversational implicature. In P. Cole, Ed., Syntax and Semantics 9: Pragmatics. New York: Academic Press, pp. 281-298.

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