Issue 3

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Notes on Pragmatics
GXNU Graduate Program in Linguistics & Applied Linguistics
Edited by Shaozhong Liu
Vol. 1
Issue No. 2005(3)
Address: College of Foreign Studies, Guangxi Normal University, Guilin, 541004, China
Website: http://www.gxnu.edu.cn/cofs; Email: [email protected]
 From the Editor…………………………………………………………………………………...2
 Context, implicature and reference
Chen Huai……………………………………………………………………………………………………2
He Ning………………………………………………………………………………………………………3
Jing Andian…………………………………………………………………………………………………4
Lai Tao……………………………………………………………………………………………………….5
Li Handong…………………………………………………………………………………………………..5
Liao Jinchao………………………………………………………………………………………………….6
Liu Bin………………………………………………………………………………………………………..7
Liu Taomei……………………………………………………………………………………………………7
Liu Tingting…………………………………………………………………………………………………..8
Meng Jieqin…………………………………………………………………….…………………………….9
Ou Lianfen……………………………………………………………………………………………………9
Song Yuge…………………………………………………………………………………………………….10
Sun Yan……………………………………………………………………………………………………….12
Tang Wensheng……………………………………………………………………………………………….13
Tang Xia……………………………………………………………………………………………………...14
Wang Kaiwen………………………………………………………………………………………………...15
Wang Liyuan……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..16
Wang Wenbo………………………………………………………………………………………………….16
Wei Yunhui……………………………………………………………………………………………………17
Xu Hui………………………………………………………………………………………………………..17
Xu Zhaojuan………………………………………………………………………………………………….18
Zhou Yanqiong……………………………………………………………………………………………….19
Zhou Yuping………………………………………………………………………………………………….20
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From the Editor
The meaning of ordinary language depends a great deal on context, which serves as a filter
in meaning assignment, hence of conspicuous significance in the study of language use.
In this issue of Notes on Pragmatics, I am putting the responses from our students to
Chapter 3 (pp.379-66), which bears the title “Context, implicature and reference”. To help you
review with what Mey addressed in the chapter, here’s the outline:
3.1 Context……………………………………………………………………………………..39
3.11 The dynamic context………………………………………………………………………39
3.1.2 Context and convention…………………………………………………………………..42
3.2 Implicature………………………………………………………………………………….45
3.2.1 What is an implicature……………………………………………………………………45
3.2.2 Implications and implicatures…………………………………………………………….45
3.2.3 Conversational impicature………………………………………………………………..46
3.2.4 Conventional implicature………………………………………………………………...49
3.3 References and anaphora…………………………………………………………………..52
3.3.1 On referring………………………………………………………………………………52
3.3.2 Reference, indexicals and deictics……………………………………………………….53
3.3.3 From deixis to anaphora………………………………………………………………….56
As usual, may I have the pleasure in inviting you to enjoy the reading?
Liu, SZ, at UNCG
Context, implicature and reference
Chen Huai
([email protected]; Thu, 31 Mar 2005 15:54:49 +0800)
As the title suggests, this chapter is basically about three notions—context, implicature and reference, which
are concerned with the field of microprogmatics. They are different angles from which to approach any linguistic
phenomenon in order to fully investigate its pragmatics.
Firstly, the author highlights the importance of the notion “context”. As he points out:
Context is a dynamic…concept…as the continually changing surrounding…that enable the participants in the
communication process to interact, and in which the linguistic expressions of their interaction become intelligible.
(Mey 2001:39)
The key word “dynamic” reminds us that context is changeable according to different circumstances. Only
in certain context can our language become pragmatic meaningful and allow our utterance “to be counted as true
pragmatic acts”.
Here, the author attaches great significance to “context” because it not only assigns the proper values to
implicature and reference, but also deals with other pragmatic issues, i.e., it is a basic notion which could help us
better understand other pragmatic issues. Because communicative context is more vivid than linguistic one, it
stages language in a flesh-and-blood place, so as to give meaning to one’s word. Many examples are listed in
order to illustrate his point of view.
Another thing we should pay attention to is that context is user-oriented, thus different users are expected to
sense different meaning even with the same context. Also, language is conventional. To pragmatics, “language
is developed in a social context, its use is governed by society rather than by the individual speaker”. As a result,
the reason why we should make clear the decisive importance of context is quite obvious.
Then, comes to implicature. The word “implicature” and “implication”, both are derived from the verb “to
imply”. But implicature refers to conversational implicature—something “left implicit in actual language use”.
The technical term ‘implicature’ was introduced by the philosopher of language Paul Grice to cover a variety of
non-explicit meanings, such as suggestions, implications and the like; some are ‘conventional’, i.e. attached
conventionally to the linguistic forms; others are ‘conversational’ (Verschueren 2000:30). In Grice’s theory of
conversational implicature, Grice proposes a system of ‘conversational logic’ based on a number of ‘maxims of
conversation’, that is, some principles which are supposed to guide conversational interaction in keeping with a
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general ‘cooperative principle’.
Of these two kinds of implicature (conversational one and conventional one), conversational implicature are
contextually formed, while conventional one does not conform to their pragmatic contexts of use.
Lastly, on reference and anaphora. To be frank, this section is beyond me.
The whole chapter goes quite fluently by using simple word to illustrate many abstract notions. And these
notions, some are closed to our daily life, others are often ignored by us. Moreover, in different cultural
background, a particular expression functions variously. That’s why we could not feel the same way as
Americans do when we see an American movie. Because we do not stand on the same ground, we may often feel
very confused for the so-called humorous way of which American make fun. In intercultural communication, this
pragmatic clash, i.e. ‘cultural shock’, has caught our attention, so we’d better make it clear to the students that they
should take the culture into account when they are learning foreign language.
Reference:
Mey, J. L. 2001. Pragmatics: An Introduction[M]. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press;
Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
Verschueren, J. 2000. Understanding Pragmatics[M]. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press;
Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd.
(To the top)
He Ning
([email protected]; 1 Apr 2005 15:20:18 +0800)
In Chapter 3, Mey discusses in detail three important notions of pragmatics: context, implicature and
reference.
Firstly, let’s focus our attention on context. As mentioned in the previous chapter, context is a dynamic, not
a static concept. It is to be understood in the process of the communication. There are more context-related features
being discussed in this chapter. Being user-oriented, contexts differ from user to user, from user group to user
group, and also from language to language. Without the proper background knowledge, it is hard for us to
understand the meaning of the speaker in many cases. And context is more than just reference. It is action.
“Context is about understanding what things for: it is also what gives our utterances their true pragmatic meaning
and allow them to be counted as true pragmatic acts.” (Chapter3 P41) The importance of context lies in other
pragmatic issues, such as the pragmatic act, presupposition and register, besides its value to reference and
implicature.
Mey also discusses the context and convention. Language is conventional, which means that there is no
immediate, natural connection between a word and what it expresses. Since language is developed in a social
context, its use is governed by society rather than by the individual speakers. The context determines both what
one can say and what one can’t say: only the pragmatics of the situation can give meaning to one’s words.
(Chapter3 P43) One and the same utterance can have completely different effects, depending on convention and
context, such as irony, sarcasm, metaphor and so on.
Secondly, Mey introduces another important item: implicature. The term “implication” is different from
“implicature”. It defines a logical relationship between two propositions. A logical implication doesn’t always
correspond to what in everyday life we understand by “implies”, so we need to study the other item
“conversational implicature”. “A conversational implicature is, therefore, something which is implied in
conversation, that is, something which is left implicit in actual language use.”(Chapter3 P45) It concerns the way
we understand an utterance in conversation in accordance with what we expect to hear. When we ask a question, a
response may be apparently not relevant to the question, but it can be an adequate answer. If we limit pragmatic
explanation to the strictly grammatical, we would have to exclude some relevant answers that carry the required
information about the users and their context. Interpreting an utterance is ultimately a matter of guesswork. The
more we know about the context, the more qualified our guesswork will be.
There are other implicatures that don’t depend on a particular context of language: the conventional
implicature. In a sense, a conventional implicature is automatic and non-cancelable. But no matter how
conventional the implicature is, the very conventions which govern its use are historically developed,
culture-specific and class-specific: conventional implicature may clash with conventional uses. However, such
conventional implicatures are well defined in their proper contexts of language use only; when these contexts
change, the “conventionality” of the implicatures will change as well.
Thirdly, Mey talks about some issues concerning reference. He analyzes respectively the following issues:
proper nouns, regular nouns, indexicals, deictics and anaphor. Proper nouns are the prime examples of linguistic
expressions with proper reference: names name persons, institutions and in general, object whose reference is clear.
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In contrast to proper nouns, regular nouns have a certain indefiniteness in their meaning. The word cow is a case in
point. Since the reference of the proper nouns is not clear, we need an indexical expression. Indexical expressions
are pragmatically determined. They depend for their reference on the persons who use them. The chief linguistic
means of expressing an indexical relationship are called deictic elements. A deictic element often indicates other
things than the original spatial or temporal relationships. At the end of the Chapter3, Mey focus his attention on
anaphora. Typical anaphoric referrers are the pronouns. Anaphora doesn’t always obey the strict referential rules of
grammar. As in the case of the so-called “lazy pronouns”(Partee 1972) and other elements with ambiguous local
reference that everybody accepts and understands correctly because, in a given context, they are unambiguous. A
pragmatic approach to anaphora tries to take into account not only what the anaphorical pronoun is referring to, but
also the whole situation.(Chapter3 59)
What is of my special interest is that if we want to make the reference clear, we should pay attention not only
to the context of situation, but also to the context of culture. Some cultural differences may make the reference
ambiguous. Thus we should learn these cultural differences to avoid pragmatic failure in the cross-cultural
communication.
I have a question here. On page 53, May points out that “Proper noun are … objects whose reference is
clear.” I think proper noun’s reference is sometimes not clear if we don’t take the context into consideration. For
example, Shakespeare may refer to the world-famous dramatist, but the very word also can be used to refer to the
plays written by him or even a course at school.
(To the top)
Jing Andian
([email protected]; Tue, 29 Mar 2005 21:30:05 +0800 (CST))
Chapter 3 is basically about some important notions which are commonly used while interpreting the
language from the view of pragmatics, such as context, implicature and reference. As the title of Part II suggests,
these three notions belong to micropragmatics, which involves the important pragmatic problems in the everyday
language use which could not be dealt with from the view of other approaches such as syntax and semantics.
Specifically, there are three things addressed in chapter 3.
First, the problem of context. In the previous two chapters, the author has discussed it, whereas in this chapter
he emphases it by the conception of dynamic context. He argues that context is a dynamic, not a static concept. So
while understanding the language we must pay a close eye to the changing context. Furthermore, the extends the
context from the current language use to the social and cultural background. Different language user from different
culture at different place and time will interpret the same sentence differently. Even during the same conversation,
the context is different from time to time. Then he discusses the relationship of context with convention. In his
opinion, the language is conventional, in other words, non-natural. During the communication, it is common for
the language user to use surface-irrelevant means to express their intended meaning. Therefore, his communication
partner must depend on social context and convention to interpret his language.
Second, the author discusses the problem of implicature. Since in most cases the language user applies
non-natural language to communicate, so his intentional meanings is indirect and implicit, or in other words,
implied in his utterance. First of all he distinguishes implicature from implication. In his opinion the latter is the
logical relationship between two propositions, but the former not. In the conversation we can infer what the
speaker intends to express according to what he says and the context. In other words, we can figure out the
conversational implicature by the means of context. But this is not always the case. Since the conventional
implicature is independent of the context. That is, conventional implicature is automatic and non-cancelable.
Third, the author discusses the importance of reference in the process of understanding the language. As
Levinson(Pragmatics, 2001: 54) suggests, the relationship between language and context is reflected in the
structures of language themselves, is through the phenomenon of deixis. The use and interpretation of deixis lie in
the speaker’s intention, since the referent of the deixis is affected by the speaker’s intention. According to the
author, when we interpret the particular deixis in particular context, we have to rely on the immediate context of
the utterance.
In this chapter, what is of especial interest to me is his discussion of implicature. Implicature provides some
explicit account of how it is possible to mean more than what is actually ‘said’. But conventional implicature is
different from conversational implicature. The former is non-truth-conditional inference, and is just attached by
convention to particular lexical items or expressions. So it is non-cancelable because it is not rely on the context.
But the author continues to argue that such conventional implicatures are well defined in their proper contexts of
language use only, so when these contexts change, the conventionality of the implicatures will change as well. The
question is that if conventional implicature is independent of the context, then why it changes when the context
changes.
(To the top)
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Lai Tao
([email protected]; Sat, 23 Apr 2005 21:54:00 +0800)
This chapter is basically about three terms, i.e., context, implicature and reference.
First, the concept of context is discussed, which is a dynamic not a static concept. Context is to be understood
as the continually surroundings, in the widest sense, that enable the participants in the
communication process to interact, and in which the linguistic expressions of their interaction become intelligible.
(3.1.1: 39) Besides, the view of pragmatics limit the context to what is grammatically expressed, which has a big
advantage. And contexts, being user-oriented, can be expressed to differ from user to user, and also from language
to language. (3.1.1: 40)
The reason why the author puts emphasis on the context is that it is important not only in assigning the proper
values to reference and implicature, but also in dealing with other pragmatic issues. Then, the author continues to
deal with “context and convention”. Language users will acquire linguistic and social communicative conventions
and have to express their individual intentions under such conventions. And context also determines both what one
can say and what one cannot say: only the pragmatics of situation can give meaning to one’s words. (3.1.2: 43)
Second, implicature is analyzed, which is the pragmatic variant of implication. The two terms are connected
and also distinct. Implication defines a logical relationship between two propositions, which is of little use in real
situation. While implicature is something which is implied in conversation, that is, something that is left implicit in
actual language use. Furthermore, conversational and conventional implicature are distinct. The former can always
be “untied”, canceled, in the course of further conversation, while the latter is standardized by convention, and
cannot be changed even if we invoke another context.
Third, reference is mentioned. When reference is made indirectly, we need to have recourse to other strategies,
linguistic as well as non-linguistic, in order to establish the correct reference. Indexical
expressions include a reference to the particular context in which that sense is put to work, and are pragmatically
determined, that is, they depend for their reference on the persons who use them. (3.3.2: 54) all indexical
expressions refer to certain world conditions, either subjective or objective in nature.
Last, but not least, the author thinks only pragmatics can deal with language in real life and situation, as it
emphasize the use of language in the world.
That is my reading report, thanks for reading.
Li Handong
([email protected]; Fri, 29 Apr 2005 10:11:01 +0800)
This chapter mainly deals with context, implication and reference. The following things need us to pay
attention to.
First, it is about context.
(1) The dynamic context
Context is a dynamic, not a static concept it is to be understood as the continually changing surroundings, in
the widest sense, that enable the participants in the communication process to interact, and in which the linguistic
expressions of their interaction become intelligible.
Being user-oriented, contexts can be expected to differ from user to user, from user group to user group, and
hence from language to language.
Context is more than just reference. Context is an action. Context is about understanding what things are for.
It is also what gives our utterances their true pragmatic meaning and allows them to be counted as true pragmatic
acts,
Context is vitally important not only in assigning the proper values to reference and implicature, but also in
dealing with other pragmatic issue, such as phenomenon of ‘register’.
(2) Context and conversation
Language is conversational: that is, there is no immediate, natural connection between a word and what it
expresses.
Linguistic meaning (also called ‘sentence meaning’) is purely conversational (or ‘non-natural’), inasmuch as
it operates only within the rules of the grammar and tie context a given society. Language users must employ
socially conversational, linguistic means to express their individual intention.
Only the pragmatics of the situation can give meaning to one’s words. One and the same utterance can obtain
completely different, even diametrically opposed effects, depending on conversation and context.
Second, it is about implicature.
5
Implicature is derived from the verb ‘to imply’, a conversational implicature is something which is implied in
conversation, that is something which is left implicit in actual language use. Pragmatics is interested in this
phenomenon is that there are lots of things cannot be captured in a simple syntactic or semantic ‘rule’, but has to
be accounted for in other ways.
The term ‘implication’ defines a logical relationship between two propositions.
Conversational implicature concerns the way we understand an utterance in conversation in accordance with
what we expect to hear.
Mey gives us an example of asking Aunt’s birthday, shows us that conversation should obey some principles
such as cooperative principle.
What is conversationally formed as a logical implicatuure will not tolerate a pragmatic answer, and
conversely, a pragmatic implicature will make no sense in a purely logical or formal-grammatical environment.
Both logical and conversational implicaatures, in order to play a role in human interaction, as pragmatic acts must
conform to their pragmatic contexts of use.
Mey thinks, by the example of addressing, some conversational implicatures are well defined in their proper
contexts of language use only when these contexts change, the ‘conventionality’ of the implicatures will change as
well. Even straightforward conversational implicatures are not always exploited in a uniform fashion.
Third, reference and anaphora
Reference has the character of unambiguous.
Indexical expressions are a particular kind of referential expression, which, in addition to the semantics of
their ‘naming’, their sense, include a reference to the particular context in which that sense is put to work.
Indexical expressions are pragmatically determined, that is, they depend for their reference on the persons
who use them. The chief linguistic means of expressing an indexical relationship are called deictic elements.
All indexical expressions refer to certain world conditions either subjective or objective in nature.
Anaphora is a way, which use a word to substitute another word used before. Typical anaphoric referrers are
the pronouns. A pragmatic approach to anaphora tries to take into account not only what the anaphorical pronoun is
referring to the antecedent, which can be a noun or noun phrase, a piece of (con)text, but also the whole situation.
Liao Jinchao
([email protected]; Tue, 29 Mar 2005 00:40:49 +0800 (CST))
This chapter is basically about the pragmatic terms like context, implicature and reference. There are 3 things
addressed in the reading: context, implicature and reference.
Section one of the chapter is concerning context. In Mey’s eyes, context has the following features:
1. Context is a dynamic, not a static concept (Mey, Pragmatics: An Introduction. P39). Context is understood
as the continually changing surroundings, in the widest sense, that enable the participants of communication
process to interact with others.
2. Context can be expected to differ from user to user, from user group to user group and also from language
to language.
3. Context is more than just reference. Context is action. Context is about understanding what things are for. It
is also what gives our utterance their true pragmatic meaning allows them to be counted as true pragmatic acts.
What is of special interest is that context is dynamic not static. This understanding can be applied to explain many
pragmatic phenomenons.
Section two of the chapter is telling about implicature. A conversational implicature is something that is
implied in conversation. Something that is left implicit in actual language use. The term “implication” defines two
logical relationships between two propositions. But logic and everyday life do not always look at things the same
way. So besides the logical implications, we have conversational implicature. Conversational implicature concerns
the way we understand an utterance in conversation in accordance with what we expect to hear. As for the question
of conventional implicature, Mey thinks that the opinion that regards it as automatic and non-cancelable is open to
criticism. In this part, what is of special interest is the difference between conversational implicature and
conventional implicature.
Section three of this chapter concerns reference. Reference is not a least pragmatic problem. Indexical
expressions are a particular kind of referential expression which in addition to the semantics of their sense, include
a reference to the particular context in which that sense is put to work. And indexical expressions are pragmatically
determined. They depend fro their reference on the persons who use them.
As for deixis, Mey thinks that a deictic element often indicates other things than the original spatial or temporal
relationships.
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Liu Bin
([email protected]; Tue, 29 Mar 2005 11:23:40 +0800)
In this chapter, the writer talks about several issues in pragmatics which are related to daily life. The first
section concentrates on context. Context is very important in that it helps figure out ambiguities in spoken or
written language. It is to be understood as the continually changing surroundings. Context is more than just
reference. Context is action. Context is about understanding what things are for; it is also what gives our utterances
their true pragmatic meaning and allows them to be counted as true pragmatic acts. Context is vitally important not
only in assigning the proper values to reference and implicature, but also in dealing with other pragmatic issues. In
the course of the conversation, the meaning of a sentence depends on the context. There is a built-in contradiction
between the conventionalized and more or less rigid forms that the language puts at our disposal, and the
spontaneous, individual expression of our thoughts that we all strive to realize. This is true not only of the more
technical rules of the grammar, but also of what is usually discussed under the general heading of “meaning
represented in propositions. In other words, humans are made for speaking rather than for carrying on abstract
discourse about the meaning of things. In contrast to natural signs, language is conventional: that is, there is no
immediate, natural connection between a word and what it expressed. Linguistic meaning is purely conventional as
it operates only within the rules of the grammar and the context of a given society. Acquiring the linguistic and
social communicative conventions is a task that language users acquire gradually, and many of them only
imperfectly.
The second section concentrates on implicature. A conversational implicature is something which is implied
in conversation, that is, something which is left implicit in actual language use. The reason that pragmatics is
interested in this phenomenon is that we seem to be dealing here with a regularity that cannot be captured in a
simple syntactic or semantic rule, but has to be accounted for in other ways. The term “implication” is different
from “implicature” and it refers to a logical relationship between two propositions. A logical implication does not
have to correspond to what in everyday life we understand by “implies”. Logic and everyday life do not always
look at things the same way. This is why we need another term: in addition to the logical implications, we will
speak of conversational implicatures. Conversational implicature concerns the way we understand an utterance in
conversation in accordance with what we expect to hear. To know that people mean, we have to interpret what they
say. But interpretation is a tricky affair; misunderstandings are always possible, and sometimes seem to be the rule
rather than the exception. Contrast to conversational implicatures, the conventional implicatures are not subject to
the fickle finger of conversation fate, and do not depend on a particular context of language use.
The third section is on reference and anaphora. We use language to refer to persons and things, directly or
indirectly. In the case of direct reference, we have names available that will lead us to persons and things. But
when reference is made indirectly, we need to have recourse to other strategies, linguistic as well as non-linguistic,
in order to establish the correct reference. Referring has serious consequences not only for theoretical linguistics,
but also for our use of the language. Indexical expressions are a particular kind of referential expression which, in
addition to the semantics of their “naming”, their sense, include a reference to the particular context in which that
sense is put to work. All indexical expressions refer to certain world conditions, either subjective or objective in
nature. An anaphora refers to a process where a word or phrase refers back to another word or phrase which was
used earlier in a text or conversation. (To the top)
Taomei Liu
([email protected]; Tue, 12 Apr 2005 22:48:20 +0800 (CST))
This chapter is basically about the basic notion of pragmatics. There are 3 things addressed in the reading, namely, context,
implicature and reference.
Firstly, Mey talks about the definition and the importance of context in inferring utterance meaning. Context is a dynamic,
not a static concept, it is to be understood as the continually changing surroundings, in the widest sense, that enable the
participants in the communication process to interact, and in which the linguistic expressions of their interaction become
intelligible. Context is about understanding what things are for, it is also what gives our utterances their true pragmatic meaning
and allows them to be counted as true pragmatic acts.
Context is vitally important not only in assigning the proper values to reference and implicature, but also in dealing with
other pragmatic issues, such as pragmatic act and presupposition. Then one of the context-related features, the phenomenon of
‘register’ is illustrated by giving examples.
The specific paradox of pragmatics is that language users must employ socially conventional linguistic means to express
their individual intentions. The invisible workings of their minds cannot be immediately expressed, in a natural way, but must be
coded in non-natural, conventional and contextual carriers. The paradox of conventionality vs spontaneity is undone by the fact
7
that media are conventionalized through human use. This leads us to an important conclusion as regards pragmatics. Since
language is developed in a social context, its use is governed by society rather than by the individual speakers. Language users do
not decide, on the spur of the moment, which medium to choose in order to get their ideas or feelings across; they use the
artificial signs that natural language provides them with, given the affordances and what one cannot say: only the pragmatics of
the situation can give meaning to one’s words.
Secondly, Mey distinguish the terms between implication and implicature. The term ‘implication’ defines a logic
relationship between two propositions. However, a logical implication does not have to correspond to what in everyday life we
understand by ‘implies’. This is why we need another tem: conversational implicatures in addition to the logical implications.
‘Conversational implicatures’ concerns the way we understand an utterance in conversation in accordance with what we expect to
hear. Both logic and conversational implicatures must conform to their pragmatic contexts of use. However, not all implicatures
are either logic or conversational, there is another kind, conventional implicature.
A conventional implicature is automatic and non-cancelable. However, one should resist the temptation to believe that
anything in pragmatics can be explained by ‘laws’. No matter how conventional the implicature, the very conventions, which
govern its use are historically developed, cuture-specific and class-related. And even straight-forward conventional implicature
are not always exploited in a uniform fashion.
Thirdly, the issue of reference and anaphora is being elaborated. The philosophical problem of ‘referring’ has serious
consequences not only for theoretical linguistics, but also for our use of the language. Reference is not least a pragmatic problem.
We use language to refer to persons and things, directly or indirectly. In the case of direct reference, we have names available that
will lead us to persons and things. But when reference is made indirectly, we need to have recourse to other strategies, linguistic
as well as non-linguistic, in order to establish the correct reference.
Nouns can be divided into proper nouns and regular nouns. When regular nouns are not clearly indicated, indexical
expressions are employed. Indexical expressions are a particular kind of referential expression which, is addition to the semantics
of their ‘naming,’ their sense, include a reference to the particular context in which that sense is put to work. Indexical
expressions are pragmatically determined, that is , they depend for their reference on the persons who use them. The chief
linguistic means of expressing an indexical relationship are called deictic elements. All indexical expressions refer to certain
world conditions, either subjective or objective in nature. When their meaning is still obscure, the context can be made more
explicit by adding some further deictic coordinates.
We need to refer to the context, not only in order to establish the proper reference for deictic terms, but also in the case of
other deictic expressions whose referents cannot be identified outside of their proper context. A deictic element often indicates
other things than the original spatial or temporal relationships. What is left of deixis is the pure function of referring to earlier
mentions of the noun that the definite article in question identifies. It is this referring function that is called anaphora. Typical
anaphoric referrers are the pronouns, whose very name suggests that they, refer to ‘stand in’ for, something else, the ‘referent’. A
pragmatic approach to anaphora tries to take into account not only what the anaphoric pronoun is referring to, but also the whole
situation.
The true concern of pragmatics is not to what exact the rules of grammar have been observed, but whether the rules serve to
reveal the conditions that govern their use, and whether they conceal. Whereas the grammarian only tells us to avoid syntactic
clashes, pragmatics informs us about the clashes of interest between social groups, and specifically about how these clashes are
expressed in the language, including the syntax. (To the top)
Liu Tingting
([email protected]; Mon, 18 Apr 2005 15:32:04 +0800)
This reading is basically about several important pragmatic-related notions in the field of micropragmatics:
context, implicature and reference.
There are 3 things addressed in the reading: context; implicature; reference and anaphora.
First, context. In this part, the author discusses what is context in a view of pragmatic and the importance of
the context in figuring out ambiguities in spoken or written language. First of all, context is a dynamic concept, not
a static concept, and it is the continually changing surroundings according to the speakers’ communication process.
The speakers make conversions in such context as well as obtain the understanding of the language in conversion.
In contrast to the grammatical view of language, being user-oriented, context can be expected to differ from user to
user, from user group to user group, and hence from language from language. To the same context, different users
would have different understandings. Thus context is more than just reference, it is action. And context is vitally
important not only in assigning the proper values to reference, and implicature, but also in dealing with other
pragmatics issues. By register, as one of context-related features, one understanding the linguistic resources that
speakers have at their disposal to mark their attitude towards their interlocutors. In a pragmatic perspective, the
sudden and total change of register was due to the fact that the context had changed. And language is conventional,
linguistic meaning is purely conventional, inasmuch as it operates only within the rules of the grammar and the
8
context of a given society. Since language is developed in a social context, its use is governed by society rather
than by the individual speakers. It is the context that determines the use of language.
Second, implicature. This part is concerned on the implicature. In the author’s view, a conversational
implicature is, therefore, something which is implied in conversation, that is, something which is left implicit in
actual language use. The reason that pragmatics is interested in this phenomenon is that we seem to be dealing here
with a regularity that cannot be captured in simple syntactic or semantic ‘rule’, but has to be accounted for in other
ways. Both the word “implicature” and “implication” are derived from the verb “to imply”. But they are not the
same concept. The term ‘implication’, as distinguished from ‘implicature’, defines a logical relationship between
two propositions. A logical implication does not have to correspond to what in everyday life we understand by
‘imply’. However, logical and everyday life do not always look at things the same way. In addition to the logical
implication, we need conversational implictatures to resolve the problem. Conversational implicature concerns the
way we understand an utterance in conversation in accordance with what we expect to hear. Conversational
implicatures once established and accepted, have nothing of the ‘eternal’, durable quality of logical implications.
Conversational implicatures can always be ‘united’, canceled, in the course of further conversation: being
‘implicated’ by a particular conversational context. And there are other implicatures around that are not subject to
the fickle finger of conversational fate, and do not depend on a particular context of language use, that is,
conventional implicature. Conventionally, certain expressions in language implicate by themselves, a certain state
of the world, regardless of their use. Conventional implicature cannot be attributed to our use of language in
conversation, on the contrary: they become manifest through such use. Such implicatures are standardized by
convention, and cannot be changed even if we invoke another context; hence they are called ‘conventional’
Third, reference and anaphora. In this part, the author discusses the problem of reference in conversation from
the pragmatic view. The philosophical problem of ‘referring ’ has serious consequences not only for theoretical
linguistic, but also for our use of the language; reference is not least a pragmatic problem. We use language to refer
to person and things, directly or indirectly. Proper nouns are the prime examples of linguistic expressions with
‘proper’ reference: names name person, institutions and in general, object whose reference is clear. In contrast to
proper nouns, ‘regular nouns’, have a certain indefiniteness in their naming. In such case, we need something
indicating what to look for, that is, indexical expression. Indexical expressions are a particular kind of referential
expression which, in addition to the semantics of their ‘naming’, their sense, include a reference to the particular
context in which that sense is put to work. All indexical expressions refer to certain world conditions, either
subjective or objective in nature. However, in some case, we still face ambiguity in conversation with only the
indexical expressions, in such case, the context can be made more explicit by adding some further deictic
coordinates. Still, there are cases that need more elements added to the utterance in order to avoid ambiguities. We
need to the context, not only in order to establish the proper reference for deictic terms, but also in the case of
other deictic expressions whose referents cannot be identified outside of their proper context. What is left of deixis
in some expressions is the pure function of referring to earlier mentions of the noun that the definite article in
question identifies. It is precisely this referring function that is called anaphora. Typical anaphoric referrers are the
pronouns, whose very name suggests that they refer to, ‘stand in ’ for, something else, the ‘referent’.
What is of especial interest to us in this chapter is that the second part : implicature. As for me, to some extent,
it is a new concept. Now, I have great interest in the conventional implicature. Accents may also indicate social
inferiority. Speaking a nonstandard variety of the language usually connotes a socially lower standing, a lack of
culture and education, and in general a lot of negative features. From now no, I think I should begin to try my best
to speak standard mandarin in my daily life. When I communicate with others, I should also try my best to avoid
my accent of Guiliu dialect. (To the top)
Meng Jieqin
([email protected]; Sat, 26 Mar 2005 13:22:18 +0800 (CST))
In section one, firstly, it discusses context. Context is a dynamic concept. Context is very important to
pragmatic issues, such as reference, implicature and register. Being user—oriented, from language to language.
Secondly, it discusses context and convention. Language is conventional and non—natural; and it is developed in a
social context and is governed by society. The context determines speakers’ utterances and can make the utterances
be understood well.
In section two, firstly, it discusses implicature. Secondly, it discusses logical implication. The logical
implication defines a logical relationship between two propositions, but it does not have to correspond to what in
daily life we understand by ‘implies’. The logical implication has something durable quality. Thirdly, it discusses
conversational implicature. ‘Conversational implicature’ concerns the way we understand an utterance in
conversation in accordance with what we expect to hear, but it is a tricky affair. So we expect that people following
9
cooperative mechanism give us an answer. Conversational implicature is not eternal, and can be untied, canceled in
further conversation. Conversational implicature must conform to pragmatic contexts of use. Fourthly, it discusses
conventional implicature. Our expressions depend on conventional implicature, and implicate by themselves
conventionally. Conventional rules are usually obeyed, but they are not analogous to scientific laws. The
conventions are historically developed, culture—specific and class—related; also even straightforward
conventional implicature are not always exploited in a uniform fashion.
In section three, firstly, it discusses referring. Referring can bring serious problems, and consequences of the
problems are not only for theoretical linguistics, but also for our use of the language, so unambiguous reference is
demanded. Secondly, it discusses reference. Indexical and deictics reference, especially to regular nouns, has
certain indefiniteness in their naming. Indexical expressions can solve these problems by expressing more
coordinates. However, in the case of shift in ‘point of view’, problems may arise. In such case, the context can be
made more explicit by giving further deictic coordination. Thirdly, it discusses anaphora. In the case of deictic
expressions, deictic elements often indicate other things than the original spatial or temporal relationships. One
referring function (the pure function of referring to earlier mentions of the noun) is left of deixis, which is
anaphora. Pragmatic aspects are connected to anaphoric reference. In using anaphoric expressions, we concern not
just a matter of grammar, but also pragmatic problems that reflect the patterns of domination that are at work in our
society.
(To the top)
Ou Lianfen
([email protected]; Fri, 25 Mar 2005 22:12:13 +0800)
Context is a dynamic, not a static concept: it is to be understood as the continually changing surroundings, in
the widest sense, that enable the participants in the communication process to interact, and in which the linguistic
expressions of their interaction become intelligible. Context is more than just reference and it is action. It is about
understanding what things are for; it is also what gives our utterances their true pragmatic meaning and allows
them to be counted as true pragmatic acts. The context determines both what one can say and what one cannot say:
only the pragmatics of the situation can give meaning to one’s words.
A conversational implicature is something which is implied in conversation, that is, something which is left
implicit in actual language use. Implication as distinguished from implicature defines a logical relationship. A
logical implication does not have to correspond to what in everyday life we understand by “imply”. Conversational
implicature concerns the way we understand an utterance in conversation in accordance with what we expect to
hear. Both logical and conversational implicatures, in order to play a role in human interaction as pragmatic acts,
must conform to their pragmatic contexts of use.
Conventional implicatures are non-truth-conditional inferences that are simply attached by convention to
particular lexical items. It is automatic and non- cancelable.
The chief linguistic means of expressing an indexical relationship are called deictic elements. All indexical
expressions refer to certain world conditions, either subjective or objective in nature. The function of referring to
earlier mentions of the noun that the definite article in question identifies is called anaphora. A pragmatic approach
to anaphora tries to take into account not only what the anaphorical pronoun is referring to the antecedent but also
the whole situation.
(To the top)
Song Yuge
([email protected]; Wed, 30 Mar 2005 00:03:22 +0800 (CST))
This chapter is basically about context, implicature and reference, in reading process, I find it essential to
make clear three questions: First, what Is Context?
According to Mey, context is a main and important subject in pragmatic. In his opinion, “Context is dynamic,
not a static concept: it is to be understood as the continuously changing surroundings, in the widest sense, that
enable the participants in the communication process to interact, and in which the linguistic expressions of their
interaction become intelligible.” The definition he gave is a little empty, I think, because I still don’t know what
context is. And the author told us: “pragmatically speaking, the decisive importance of context is that it allows us
to use our linguistic resources to the utmost, without having to spell out all the tedious details every time we use a
particular construction.” We can see, context is very important in our daily conversation. What on earth context is?
I looked for the definition of context in many books, however, only a few mentioned it. In《语用学教程》by
索振羽,context is elaborated on . It says:
语境由三部分组成,上下文语境,情景语境和民族文化传统语境。其中,上下文语境包括口语的前言
10
后语和书面语的上下文;情景语境包括时间、地点、话题、场合和交际参与者,其中交际参与者又包含了
身份、职业、思想、教养和心态;民族文化传统语境包括历史文化背景、社会规范和习俗以及价值观。
I think, the definition given by 索振羽 is perfect except that he haven’t noticed that context is dynamic. In
my opinion, context is really dynamic. However, we now know that context is composed of three parts, then do all
the parts change with the conversation process or does one of the three parts change with conversation? It’s hard to
say. Let’s look at the example given by Mey:
In the course of conversation, the discussion touched upon such delicate matters as Andersen’s relationship
with the STASI, the German secret police. Biermann maintained that he had information showing that his friend
had been an informer for the police, which Andersen denied. The latter also reminded Biermann of how he only
had been able to work in the East thanks to Andersen’s intercession and support, among other things, as a publisher
and printer of Biermann’s songs.
In a pragmatic perspective, the most interesting feature of this conversation was that at a given point, the two
friends started addressing each other by the formal SIE for you, whereas they before had used the familiar DU .
This sudden and total change of register was due to the fact that the context had changed: from the relaxed one, to
a matter of life and death.
The context here, I think, refers to “上下文语境和情景语境”, which means the two kinds of context are easy
to change, that is, they are dynamic. Then, what about the traditional and cultural context? Does it change with the
conversation process? I think not. Comparatively, tradition and culture are static, they can not change in a short
time.
So, here is the conclusion: context is dynamic, but only some parts of the context change with the situation.
语境的定义很广,而且不同学派、不同学科中人们对其认识也不一样。但就一般而言, 语境是言语交
际所依赖的环境,它包括:
1) 语言环境,即文章或言谈中的话题的上下文或上下句;
2) 人们交际时共处的社交语境,即说话人使用语言和听话人理解语言的客观环境,如交际场所、交
际双方的身份、地位和彼此之间的关系以及双方的文化背景等。
3) 交际双方各自不同的认知环境,即各自不同的经历、经验、知识等足以影响交际认知的种种情况。
——《语用学和英语学习》何自然 1997
The above definition is given by Mr.He, which is almost the same as the definition given by 索振羽 except
some details. Mr He details the definition in three parts too: 语言环境、社交语境和认知环境,which means he
concludes the definition from the perspective of linguistics. Perhaps it is more accepted by us. I remember when I
wrote an essay a year ago, the definition of MrSuo is quoted by me, and with it I analyses a phenomenon of
linguistic. Later, the professor asked me: “OK, could you please tell me the difference between 上下文语境 and
情景语境?” I was embarrassed then, because I don’t know the difference between them, and it is hard to differ
them.
The reason is that sometimes 上下文语境 and 情景语境 are overlapped, I really cannot differ them. When I was
writing the essay, I was puzzled too. But I cannot find a better definition at that time, I quoted in the essay though I
didn’t understand clearly.
Now, I know more about what context is.
The second question is: What Is Implicature?
In 3.2, Mey told us that “A conversational implicature is, therefore, something which is implied in
conversation, that is, something which is left implicit in actual language use.” Yes, in our daily talk, we often say
something that is not clearly expressed though we can express it clearly, but which is often understood by the
interlocutors. The meaning that we imply in our utterance is implicature.
非自然意义(=有意图的信息交流内容)包括字面意义和含义,含义包括规约含义和非规约含义,非
规约含义包括非会话含义和会话含义,会话含义又包括一般性会话含义和特殊性会话含义。并且“会话含义
不是从语言系统内部(语音、语法、语义等)去研究语言本身表达的意义,而是根据语境研究话语的真正
含义,解释话语的言外之意。会话含义关注的不是说话人说了些什么,而是说话人说这句话可能意味着什
么。
――索振羽《语用学教程》
So now we can see, implicature is got by inferring what the speaker say and what the context is, that is,
sometimes we get the implicature by guesswork, which means we sometimes may misunderstand the interlocutor.
But why people want the others to guess his meaning? I think that is a big problem, which is still not clear now. So
I don’t want to discuss it here, the question I am interested in is how and when we get the implicatures?
Grice 认为,在所有的语言交际活动中为了达到特定的目标,说话人和听话人之间存在着一种默契,
一种双方都应该遵守的原则,他称这种原则为会话的合作原则(cooperative principle)
。具体些说,合作原
则就是要求每一个交谈参与者在整个交谈过程中所说的话符合这一次交谈的目标或方向。
真正产生会话含义的是下面这种情况:说话人公然不执行某一条准则,也就是说话人知道自己违反了
一条准则,同时他还想让听话人知道他违反了一条准则。Grice 称此为对准则的蔑视(flouting)
。当说话人
11
蔑视一条准则时,听话人有两种选择,一种是认为说话人在撒谎,或认为说话人说了一些不相干的话,总
之,他可以认为说话人没有遵守合作原则,因而他也没有义务遵循合作原则,最终导致交际中断。
另一种选择是假设说话人是遵循合作原则的,既然他是有意合作的,那么他违反了某一准则并让我注
意到他违反了这条准则,一定是为了传递一些符合合作原则的信息,并且他一定相信我是能够从他所说的
话里推导出这些信息的。
――何兆熊《新编语用学概要》
This paragraph tells us clearly when we can get implicatures. When the interlocutor disobeys the cooperative
principle intentionly, the other interlocutor has to infer what he said and gets what he really means. E.g
A: Mrs.X is an old bag.
B: The weather has been quite delightful this autumn, hasn’t it?
In this dialogue, what A and B say are totally different things, which means B doesn’t cooperate with A, so we can
infer from what he says and get the real meaning of his, that is, it is unsuitable and impolite to talk about such topic
in such surroundings. However, though B said such irrelevant words, A still can understand what he means, in
perspective of this, we have to say that B still obeys the cooperative principle in the deep level, though in the
surface level B violates the cooperative principle.
According to 何兆熊,almost all of the conversations follow the cooperative principle except some dialogues
between madmen, because we can find almost all of the conversations obey the principle in deep level, otherwise
the talk cannot go on.
Generally speaking, we say that we can get conversational implicature by referring what the interlocutor said
in the case of his violation of cooperative principle.
(To the top)
Sun Yan
([email protected]; Wed, 30 Mar 2005 00:00:07 +0800 (CST))
Three basic notions in pragmatics are mentioned in this chapter, namely, that of context, implicature and
reference.
As is manifest from the previous chapter, pragmatics is not just an extension of linguistics on its own terms,
but rather an extension on ‘extra-linguistic’ terms by breaking away form the strict, local paradigm of grammar.
Context is among those ‘extra-linguistic’ terms. Context is a dynamic concept in that it is understood as the
continually changing surroundings. It is so because it adopts a user-oriented view of language, in which one asks
how these linguistic elements are used in the context of interaction. Being user-oriented, contexts can be
expected to differ from user to user, from user group to user group, and hence also from language to language.
Context is vitally important not only in assigning the proper values to reference and implicature, but also in dealing
with such other pragmatic issues as ‘register’. By the use of different registers, the speaker reveals his attitude
towards the interlocutors, as is manifest by different forms of address, and so and so forth. However, there is a
general paradox of language. Language is natural only inasmuch the desire to communicate, and the need to
express themselves, are natural for all humans. Yet, linguistic meaning (also called ‘sentence meaning’) is purely
conventional (or non-natural) inasmuch as it operates only within the rules of the grammar and the context of a
given society. Therefore, the specific paradox of pragmatics is that language users must employ socially
conventional linguistic means to express their individual intentions. Since language is developed in a social
context, its use is governed by society rather than by the individual speakers. Thus, one and the same utterance
can obtain completely different, even diametrically opposed effects, depending on convention and context.
Pragmatically speaking, the decisive importance of context is that it allows us to use our linguistic resources to the
utmost, without having to spell out all the tedious details every time we use a particular construction.
The second issue discussed in this chapter is the philosophical implication and its pragmatic variant,
implicature. The word ‘implicature’ is derived from the verb ‘to imply’, as is its cognate implication. But a
logical implication does not have to correspond to what in everyday life we understand by ‘implies’. As is shown
by the following formula:
p→q
-p → q
Thus, in addition to the logical implications, we need another term, that of conversational implicatures.
Conversational implicature concerns the utterance in conversation in accordance with what we expect to hear. In
addition to logical and conversational implicature, there is also another kind of implicature called ‘conventional
implicature’, which doesn’t depend on a particular context of language use.
After implicature is introduced, reference and anaphora are brought to our view. We use language to refer
to persons and things, directly or indirectly. When reference is made indirectly, we need to have recourse to other
strategies, linguistic as well as non-linguistic, in order to establish the correct reference. Proper nouns are the
12
prime examples of linguistic expressions with ‘proper’reference. In contrast, ‘regular nouns’ have a certain
indefiniteness in their naming, as the word pen doesn’t tell us anything about what a particular pen is called. To
refer to a particular pen, we need something indicating what to look for , and where: an indexical expression, in
short. Indexical expressions are a particular kind of referential expression which, in adition to the semantics of
their ‘naming’, their sense, include a reference to the particular context in which that sense is put to work. They are
pragmatically determined, that is , they depend for their reference on the presons who use them. The chief
linguistic means of expressing an indexical relationship are called deictic elements. All indexical expressions
refer to certain world condition, either subjective or objective in nature. While a deictic element often indicates
other things than the original spatial or temporal relationships. Over time, some deictics may lose their specific
referential powers altogether. What is left of deixis in the expressions is the pure function of referring to earlier
mentions of the noun that the definite article in question identifies. It is precisely this referring function( in a
sentence or discourse context) that is called anaphora. In the case of the referent occuring ‘later’ in the text, we
have ‘ cataphora’.
What interests us most in this chapter is the distinction between implication and its pragmatic variant :
implicature, and the deixis and its various types. They constitute one of the most important issues in pragmatic
field.
(To the top)
Tang Wensheng
([email protected]; 29 Mar 2005 16:34:28 +0800)
This chapter is basically about context, implicature and reference.
There are three things addressed in the reading:
First, this chapter elaborates on the notion of context.
The author maintains that context is dynamic which breaks away from the strict, local paradigm of grammar
and it is to be understood as the continually changing surroundings. We should take a ‘user-oriented’ view of
language instead of ‘grammatical’ view of language. Being user-oriented, context can be expected to differ from
user to user, from user group to user group, and also from language to language. The author elaborates this by
giving an example of an English context and Spanish one on a towel dispenser in a restaurant in Cadillac,
Michigan. As Spanish speaker may be unfamiliar with the use of the gadget, the words in Spanish are not in their
proper context and thus can not be understood by the Spanish.
Context is more than just reference. Context is action. We can look at the following utterance:
It’s a long time since we visited your mother.
The sentence has a totally different pragmatic meaning when uttered at the coffee table after dinner in a
married couple’s living room, than the same sentence uttered by a husband to his wife while they are standing in
front of the hippopotamus enclosure at the local zoo.
The author also states the contradiction between context and convention. No matter how natural our language
facilities or convention- bound their use, as language users, we always operate in context. However, language is
conventional: that is , there is no immediate, natural connection between a word and what it expresses. Linguistic
meaning is purely conventional, inasmuch as it operates only within the rules of the grammar and the context of a
given society.
Second, this chapter tells us what an implicature is. It also tells about conversational implicature and
conventional implicature.
Conversational implicature is something which is implied in conversation and which is left implicit in actual
language use. It concerns the way we understand an utterance in conversation in accordance with what we
expected to hear. To know what people mean, you have to interpret what they say. But interpretation is a tricky
affair; misunderstandings are always possible. As Leech remarks, “Interpreting an utterance is ultimately a matter
of guesswork, (to use a more dignified term) hypothesis formation”(1983:30-1). But normally what we expect
when asking a question is that people cooperate by giving us an answer.
Conversational implicature can always be ‘united’, canceled, in the course of further conversation.
Conventional implicature do not depend on a particular context of language use. Someone seem to have the
opinion that a conventional implicature is automatic and non-cancelable and thus have nothing to do with
pragmatics. This point of view is wrong, however. First, the very convention which govern its use are historically
developed, culture-specific and class-related. Second, even straightforward conventional implicatures are not
always exploited in a uniform fashion.
Third, the reading gives an account of reference and anaphora. Reference is not least a pragmatic problem.
We use language to refer to persons and things, directly and indirectly. But when reference is made indirectly, we
need to have recourse to other strategies, linguistic as well as non-linguistic, in order to establish the correct
13
reference. Indexical expressions are a particular kind of referential expression, which include pronouns, local and
temporal adverbs, verb tenses and so on. Deictics used to refer to earlier mentions of a noun (in a sentence or
discourse context) is called anaphora.
What is of especial interest to us is that ambiguous sentences are sometimes can have humorous effect,
because the immediate context does not by itself furnish all the clues to understanding an utterance.
It is generally agreed upon that readers make interpretations and judgments regarding the material that they
read. One useful way of examining the way in which readers interpret information is through ambiguous stimuli.
Numerous investigations have demonstrated that ambiguous sentences, such as garden-paths, require the reader to
make an interpretive decision, such as high or low attachment. We can take a look at the discussing example at the
end of this chapter:
A. ‘What’s your name?’
B. ‘Betty Skymitch.’
A. ‘Spell it, please.’
B. ‘B-E-T-T-Y.’(Bruce Fraser)
The word ‘it’ in the above interchange is ambiguous. Usually we expect to get the unfamiliar name
‘Skymitch’, but the speaker can choose. (To the top)
Tang Xia
([email protected]; Mon, 28 Mar 2005 17:32:54 +0800 (CST))
This chapter is basically about context, implicature and reference.
There are 3 things addressed in the reading:
First: context
1、The dynamic context
(1) Context is a dynamic, not a static concept. (Mey: 39)
(2) Being user-oriented, contexts can be expected to differ from user to user, from use group to use group,
from language to language. (P40)
(3) Context is more than just reference. It’s action. Context is about understanding what things are for; It’s
also what gives our utterance their true pragmatic meaning and allows them to be counted as true
pragmatic acts. (P41)
(4) Context is vitally important not only in assigning the proper values to reference and implicature, but
also in dealing with other pragmatic issues, such as the pragmatic act, presupposition. (P41)
2
Context and convention
Language is developed in a society context. Its use is governed by society rather than by the individual
speaker. The mediating carriers are conventionalized through human use in context. (43)
There is a built-in contradiction between the conventionalized and rigid form, and the spontaneous,
individual expression (between conversation and context).
(1) Meaning can be nature, but language is conventional. (43)
(2) Language is natural only inasmuch the desire to communicate, and the need to express themselves, are natural
for all human. In contrast, linguistic meaning is purely conventional within the rules of the grammar and
context of a given society.(43)
Second: implicature
1、distinction between implication and implicature
(1) Both are derived from the verb “to imply”. (45)
(2) Implication:
It is a terminology in logic.
Defines a logical relationship between two propositions. The logical implication is the relation ‘if p, then q’,
which is common in daily life, but cannot have to correspond to what in everyday life we understand by
“implies”. (45)
(3) implicature
Also called conversational implicature, is something that is implied in conversation, which is left implicit in
actual language use. It concerns the way we understand an utterance in conversation in accordance with what
we expect to hear. The understanding of implicature must depend on the context.(45,46)
(4) Conversational implicature can be canceled, the logical implication cannot be.
14
2、Conventional implicature
The implicature that are not subject to the fickle finger of conversational fate, and do not depend on a particular
context of language us. It always implicated by themselves.
(1) However, some conventional implicatures are well defined in their proper contexts of language use only,
when those contexts change, the conventionality of the implicature will change as well.
(2) Conventional impplicature are not always exploited in a uniform fashion.
Third: reference and anaphora
1 definition of reference:
The relationship between a word and the things, actions, events and qualities they stand for.
Reference: (1) direct reference----proper reference----proper noun
(2) Indirect reference----regular nouns
For regular nouns, they have a certain indefiniteness in their naming, so
They need an indexical expression to refer to a particular name.
2 Indexical and deictic
(1) Index:
Is use to denote the body part which serves as the human pointer.
Indexical expressions: are particular kinds of referential expression.
Are pragmatically determined, that is they depend for their reference on the persons
who use them.
(2) Deictic: the adjective to deixis.
The act of point.
Is use to indicate the function that the certain words have in the language which is always bound
up with the tine and place of the utterance, seen in relation to the speaker.
3
deixis and anaphora
(1) Anaphora: the referent comes before the pronoun the pure functions of the referring to earlier mentions
of the noun that the definite article in question identifier. This referring function is called anaphora.
(2) Contrast to anaphora, there is cataphora----the referent occurs in later in the text.
(3) Pragmatic approach to anaphora concerns not only the antecedent, but also the whole situation.
What is of especial interest to us is that:
The pragmatics is interested in the context and implicature. The reason is that those linguistic phenomenons cannot
be explained by the rules of syntax and semantics, but pragmatics can give them a proper explanation.
Wang Kaiwen
([email protected]; Mon, 28 Mar 2005 15:25:35 +0800 (CST))
This chapter is basically talking about the importance of communicative circumstances, which play crucial
role in interpreting utterances. Pragmatically speaking, it’s context that determines meanings of sentences.
Language is not natural thing, but an artificial one, for linguistic meaning is purely conventional, it operates not
only within the rules of the grammar but the context of society. What is more, society is the only place from where
our ability to use language comes, maintains, and develops. Children who grown up only with wolves and human
beings (like Liu lian-ren, 刘连仁 in Chinese, who was a forced coal miner had lived in mountains alone for
nearly 40 years after his escape of Japanese soldiers) who is isolated from other humans for many decades cannot
acquiring or maintain linguistic performances. All this indicates that language users must learn language socially.
There is three issues addressed in this chapter, I would like to introduce them in details as follows:
First, context is dynamic and changeable. It can be demonstrated in two ways, styles of speaking and some
rhetoric impressments, indirectly and directly respectively. For the former, take pron of second person in Chinese
for example, 您(honorific expressing) shows more respects for the hearer than 你(common expressing) does,
while they have same semantic meaning in common. For the latter, irony can make this point. For example, the
meaning of “you do a great job” can varies with different contexts, that is to say, with context changes, so does the
meaning of given sentence.
Second, implicature is different from implication. Implication is a logic term and cannot cancelable, while
implicature not. In if-then relationships, if-clause is condition, and then-clause is implication. But implicature is a
pragmatic term, which concerns the way we understand an utterance in conversation in accordance with what we
15
expect to hear. Take a dialog for example:
Utterer: Do you go to school now?
Hearer: I’m not feeling well today.
What meaning the utterer can imply from the answer? It’s hearer’ not going to school that is implicature. Why?
Because it’s a commonsense that a sick student would not attend to class. In pragmatically view, the hearer’
indirect answer results from linguistic economy. Supposed, his answer is “not”, the utterer must ask again “why
not?” thus the hearer still answers as above.
Third, reference is another key factor in pragmatics. Indexical words indicate different things in different
context and its register varies with things refer to. In English, when describes things or persons, we put “a(n)”
before unknown things (or persons) and “the” known ones. So, readers can know whether or not things described
are definite. But it’s more complex with Chinese,书(book) in sentence of “他买了书” is indefinite, and is definite
in “书他买了”.
In the chapter, what is of especial interest to me is that context is dynamic. This is always the case. There are
vivid sayings in Chinese support this: 到什么山上唱什么歌( the way of speaking must be adapted by given
circumstance), and 见人说人话,见鬼说鬼话( tell truth to good men, and lies to ill men), and so and forth.
Wang Liyuan
([email protected]; Fri, 01 Apr 2005 11:52:57 +0800)
This reading is basically about one part of Micropragmatics.
There are 3 things addressed in this reading, i.e., context, implicature and reference.
First, the author thinks context is an important concept. Context is a dynamic but not a static concept. It will
be changed by the surroundings changing. Here it talks about a concept—register. By register, one understands the
linguistic resources that speakers have at their disposal to mark their attitude towards their interlocutors. In this
section, the author also talks about the context and convention. Language is conventional; an language is
developed in a social context. The use of language is governed by society rather than by the individual speakers.
Second, the author deals with implicature. Implicature is distinguished from implication. Implication defines
a logical relationship between two propositions. But implicature means something which is implied through
inferencing in actual language use. Implicature consists of conversational implicature and conventional implicature.
Conversational implicature concerns the way we understand an utterance in conversation in a accordance with
what we expect to hear. Conversational implicature is usually speculated by context. Conventional implicature
cannot be inferenced by context, and it’s conventional.
Third, it’s concerned about reference and anaphora. By illustrating an example, the author concludes that the
reference of a word often changes with the person uttering it. Here also talks something about indexicals and
deictics. Indexicals include pronouns, local and temporal adverbs, verb tenses and so on. The chief linguistic
means of expressing an indexical relationship are called deictic elements. The pure function of referring to earlier
mentions of the noun that definite article in question identifies is called anaphora. A pragmatic approach to
anaphora tries to take into account not only what the anaphorical pronoun is referring to, but also the whole
situation. (To the top)
Wang Wenbo
([email protected]; Tue, 26 Apr 2005 07:16:23 +0800 (CST))
This chapter discusses three issues: context, implicature and reference.
Context is a dynamic definition, not a static concept. We should understand it as the continually changing
surroundings, in the wide sense, that enable the participants in the communication process to interact. First, context
is extralinguistic and user-oriented, contexts can be expected to differ from user to user. Second, context is more
than just reference. Context is action. Context is about understanding what things are for; it is also what gives our
utterances their true pragmatic meaning and allows them to be counted as true pragmatic acts.
Speech becomes so natural to us that in order to characterize our language in contrast to ‘artificial’ (logical or
computer) language.
Implications and implicatures are different items. A logical implication does not have to correspond to what in
everyday life we understand by ‘implies’. Strict semantic or logical criteria will not help us to understand
conversational implicatures. Logical implicature will not tolerate a pragmatic answer, and conversely, a pragmatic
implicature will make no sense in a purely logical or formal-grammatical environment. Some implicatures are
standardized by convention, and cannot be changed even if we put them in another context; hence they are called
16
‘conventional’.
Proper nouns are the prime examples of linguistic expressions with ‘proper’ reference. The importance of
anticipating the way other people construe the world, and of being able to adopt their point of view, in addition to
our own. (To the top)
Wei Yunhui
([email protected]; Fri, 29 Apr 2005 12:00:26 +0800 (CST))
This chapter is basically about three issues on pragmatics, viz. context; implicature; reference.
Firstly, what Mey concerns is “context”, and he points out that context is a dynamic, not a static concept. That
is to say context is the continually changing surroundings that make it possible that the interlocutors can go on
with their communication and understand each other. Context is a ‘user-oriented’ view of language, and it differs
from user to user, from user group to user group, and hence also from language to language. Context is more than
just reference. Context is action, and it is about understanding what things are for; it is also what gives our
utterances their true pragmatic meaning and allows them to be counted as true pragmatic acts. Context is very
important not only in assigning the proper values to reference and implicature,but also in dealing with other
pragmatic issues. Register, by which one understands the linguistic resources that speakers have at their disposal to
mark their attitude towards their interlocutors, is one of the context-related features.
As to context and convention, Mey points out that though our language facilities are natural or their use is
convention-bound, as language users, we always operate in context. So the context has to be taken into
consideration whenever we formulate our thoughts about language. Linguistic meaning is purely conventional,
inasmuch as it operates only within the rules of the grammar and the context of a given society.
Secondly, Mey concerns the pragmatics issue of implicature including conversational implicature and conventional
implicature.
Conversational implicature is something which is implied in conversation, that is, something which is left
implicit in actual language use. It concerns the way we understand an utterance in conversation in accordance with
what we expect to hear. Mey also points out another property that separates conversational from logical
implication:the fact that the former can be undone(or ‘canceled’). Example shows that conversational implicatures
can always be ‘untied’,canceled, in the course of further conversation: being ‘implicated’ by a particular
conversational context, another conversational context can ‘ex-plicate’ them again.
Conventional implicature, Mey puts it that, do not depend on a particular context of language use.’ Mey hold
critical opinion on the view of conventional implicature being automatic and non-cancelable. First, he states, one
should resist the temptation to believe that anything in pragmatics can be explained by ‘laws’. No matter how
conventional the implicature, the very conventions which govern its use are historically developed, culture-specific
and class-related: conventional implicatures may clash with conventional uses. Second, even straightforward
conventional implicatures are not always exploited in a uniform fahion.
Lastly, Mey comes to reference and anophora. He puts it that reference is surely a pragmatic problem. We use
language to refer to persons and things, directly or indirectly. In case of direct reference, we have names available
that will lead us to persons and things; but when reference is made indirectly, we need to have recourse to other
strategies, linguistic as well as non-linguistic, in order to establish the correct reference. Indexical expressions are a
particular kind of referential expression which ,in addition to the semantics of their ‘naming’, their sense, include a
reference to the particular context in which that sense is put to work. Deictics used to refer to earlier mentions of a
noun (in a sentence or discourse context) is called anaphora.
(To the top)
Xu Hui
([email protected]; Mon, 28 Mar 2005 16:57:00 +0800)
This chapter is basically about context, implicature and reference. In this reading report , three things will be
addressed.
The first one is about the topic of context. According to the author, context is dynamic, that is to say, it differs
from user to user, and hence from language to language. When referring to the importance of context, the author
notes that “Context is vitally important not only in assigning the proper values to reference and implicature, but
also in dealing with many pragmatic issues, such as the pragmatic act, presupposition, register, etc. Whenever we
express ourselves with language, context has to be considered. However, there exists a built-in and undone
contradiction between conventionality and spontaneity by the fact that the medium of carriers are conventionalized
through human use. This undone paradox leads us to an important conclusion as regards pragmatics, which reads
17
as follows “The context rather than the language uses determines what one can say and what one cannot say: only
the pragmatics of situations can give meaning to users’ words” Thus, one and the same utterance can obtain
completely different, even opposed effects, depending on convention and context.
Second, the author introduces an important, independently motivated concept in philosophy and linguistics:
that of implication and its pragmatic variant, implicature concocted by Grice. At the beginning of the second
section, the author gives us his own understanding of implicature. In order to obtain a satisfactory account of
implicature, the author in this chapter appeals to some general “conversational principles”. Before doing this, the
author first distinguishes“logical implication” and implicature and concludes that a logical implication does not
have to correspond to what in everyday life we understand by “implies”. The derivation of conversational
implicature depends on how much we know about the context of the utterance and how cooperative our
interlocutor is. However, conversational implicature is not as eternal as logical implications, they can always be
canceled in the course of further conversation. Then the author uses this conclusion to the particular context of
utterance and concludes that neither can logical implication end with a pragmatic implicature nor a pragmatic
implicature makes sense in a purely logical environment. Both logical and conventional implicatures, in order to
play a role in human interaction as pragmatic acts, must conform to their pragmatic context of use.
However, not all implicatures are either logical or conversational, there is another kind---conventional
implicature. Certain expressions in language indicate conventionally a certain state of world, regardless of their use.
Accent is used as an example in explaining such expressions. However, a conventional implicature is not
automatic and non-cancelable. The author gives two reasons to explain this. In the end, the author concludes with
Bilmes that “ The rule of implicatures are not always obeyed, and when they are broken, the breach is
observable.”(Bilmes 1956:50)
Third, in the last section, reference, indexicals and anaphora are mainly discussed. Reference is not least a
pragmatic problem, theoretical linguists also study it. Indexical expressions are a particular kind of referential
expressions, which are pragmatically determined, that is, they depend for their reference on the persons who use
them. Pointers are the chief linguistic means of expressing such expressions. ‘Indexical field’ proposed by Karl
Bűhler centered on the point of intersection of the main coordinates of the “here-now-I” system. In this field,
speaker and ‘I’ are not always identical, ‘honorifics’ can explains this very well. All indexical expressions refer to
certain world conditions, either subject or object in nature. Context plays a decisive role not only in order to
establish the proper reference for deictic items but also in the case of other deictic expressions whose reference
cannot be identified outside of their proper context. A deictic element often indicates other things than the original
spatial or temporal relationships. Over time, what is left of deixis in such expression(as in the case of ille) is the
pure anaphoric function. Anaphora does not always obey the strict referential rules of grammar, because in a given
context, they are always unambiguous.
What interests us most in this connection of anaphoric reference is its pragmatic aspects. A pragmatic
approach to anaphora tries to take into account not only the antecedent but also the whole situation. A case in point
is the reference holds between gender-marked articles and pronouns and their corresponding nouns. Such concerns
are not just a matter of grammar, they identify a pragmatic problem. What is at stake is not simply correctness in
observing the grammatical rules, but the ways the rules reflect the patterns of domination that are at work in our
society. Pragmatics informs us about the clashes of interest between social groups, and specifically about how
these clashes are expressed (or not, as the case may be) in the language, including the syntax. (To the top)
Xu Zhaojuan
([email protected]; Tue, 29 Mar 2005 10:35:27 +0800 (CST))
In this chapter, the author talked about three issues, including context, implicture and reference and anaphora.
From the previous chapter we know pragmatics is definitely more than just a linguistic waste-basket, an
extension of linguistics on its own terms. Rather, linguistics will have to be extended on extralinguistic terms by
breaking away from the strict, local paradigm of grammar.
Context, in this chapter, author emphasized is was dynamaic. “context is dynamic, not a static concept: it is to be
understood as the continually changing surroundings, in the widest sense, that enable the participants in the
communication process to interact, and in which the linguistic expressions of their interaction become intelligible.
“Leech 在论述意义的定义时有多重观点,他也曾提到过语义的研究应和言语情景结合起来的观点,这
也正是他为语用学所下的定义: I shall redefine pragmatics for the purpose of linguistics, as the study of
meaning in relation to speech situation.他还写出一个等式来表书这个观点:意义=可观察到的语境。”(王寅,
2001) Frege, Strawson, Quine 等都提到过要从语言使用的环境来研究语言的意义。Firth 和 Halliday 等更强调
这种观点,极力主张应从社会功能和使用情景角度来考察语言,语言具有情景意义和形式意义,并认为语
言的意义只能在具体的语境中加以确定。Halliday 等所创立的系统功能学派认为,意义就是语境。选择、
18
语篇、衔接、语境等都是语义概念。语义系统是由社会情景所决定的,并且指派和决定词汇语法系统,词
汇语法系统支配和决定音系系统。Halliday: Meaning is the bridge between linguistic forms and situation.
No matter how natural our language facilities or how convention-bound the use, as language users. We always
operate in contexts. Therefore, the context looms large, and has to be taken into account whenever we formulate
our thoughts about language.
The paradox of conventionality vs. spontaneity is undone by the fact that the mediating carriers, are
conventionalized through human use. In fact we get so used to the medium of language that it becomes our second
nature. Speech becomes so natural to us that in order to characterize our language in contrast to artificial language,
we use the adjective natural—despite the fact that, strictly speaking, all languages have been developed among
users and for uses, as social artifacts. There strictly are no such things as natural language.
This leads us to an important conclusion as regards pragmatics. Since language is developed in a social
context, its use is governed by society rather than by the individual speakers. Language users do not decide, on the
spur of the moment, which medium to choose in order to get their ideas or feelings across; they use the artificial
signs that natural language provides them with, given the affordances of their actual, historical context. The
context determines both what one can say and what one cannot say: only the pragmatics of the situation can give
meaning to one’s words.
Let’s focus on another property that separates conversational from logical implication: the fact that the former
can be undone. For example, take the English quantifiers all and some. These form an implicational sacle<all
some>.
(1)All of the boys went to the party.
(2)Some of the boys went to the party.
Now, given any such scale, there is a general predictive rule for deriving a set of quantity implicatures,
namely if a speaker asserts that a lower or weaker point on a scale obtains, then he implicates that a higher or
stronger point does not all the boys went to the party; this is so even though it is quite compatible with the truth of
(2) that (1) is also true, as shown by the non-contradictoriness of (3)
Some of the boys went to the party, in fact all.
The context is the universe of everyday language use, the sum total of what people do with each other in
conversation. Hence, in a case like the above, it is the current conversational context and its conversational
implicatures that decide whether the contradiction between the quantifiers all and some is a logical or a pragmatic
implicature will not tolerate a pragmatic answer, and conversely, a pragmatic implicature will make no sense in a
purely logical or formal—grammatical analysis, both logical and conversational implicatures, in order to play a
role in human interaction as pragmatica acts, must conform to their pragmatic contexts of use.
以语境为中心,按语言内与语言外为标准可将意义分为系统意义和外指意义,不少学者认为这是语义
学研究中的一条最重要的原则,同时也是区分语义学和语用学的分水岭。 (To the top)
Zhou Yanqiong
([email protected]; Tue, 29 Mar 2005 01:00:26 +0800 (CST))
In this chapter, three major questions are addressed(1)context (2)implicature (3)reference and anaphore
1.context is a dynamic concept and it is the continually changing sorrounding. He gives examples to elaborate
(1) the context can be different from user to user or languages to languages (2) context is more than just reference
but also action.(3)between formal and informal register, languages will be different. As to the relationship
between context and convention,Mey states that language is conventional and is developed in a social context,
what language users use is conventional languages and the pragmatics of the situation give meaning to one’s
words.
2.As regards implicature(1)The difference between implication and implicature is discussed. Implication
defines a logical relationship between two propositions; while implicature is something which is implied in
conversation. (2)In the following section Mey further explaines their difference : “conversational implicatures,
once established and accepted, have nothing of the ‘eternal’,durable quality of logical implication.” (3)whether
conventional implicatures have anything to do with pragmatics, Mey gives some examples to illustrate that when
contexts change, the ‘conventionality’ of the implicatures will chang as well.
3. (1)In order to refer to a particular thing, indexical expressions areneeded, the indexicals include pronouns,
local and temporal adverbs,verb tenses and so on, Mey also gives examples to demonstrate that indexical
expressiions are pragmatically determined.(2)anaphora and cataphora are discussed. In anaphora the referent
comes before the pronoun, while in cataphora the referent occurs later in the text. Mey says what pragmatics
interest is not the technicalities of anaphoric reference but its pragmatic aspects. He gives the example of the
19
gender-marked pronouns to illustrate his points:grammarians only tell people to avoid syntactic clash while
pragmatics are interested in the clashed of interst between social group and in how these clashed are expressed.
In this chapter What is of especial interest to me is reference and anaphore, in our daily life behind some
anaphores there are some special meaning, for example when we refer our country we some time do not use
unanimated “it” but “her”, though it violates the grammer it express our loving for our country just like for our
mother. And in China we often have the experiences when somebody loathes someone else, the disgusting person
may be mentioned by “it” etc.
(To the top)
Zhou Yuping
([email protected]; Wed, 30 Mar 2005 09:44:44 +0800 (CST))
The chapter basically focuses on three issues---context, implicature and reference.
The first is concerned with the dynamic context. Context is a dynamic, not a static concept; it is to be
understood as the continually changing surroundings, in the widest sense, that enable the participants in the
communication process to interact, and in which the linguistic expressions of their interaction become intelligible.
In addition, Context is a reference as well as action, it is of vital importance in assigning the proper values to
reference and implicature. In the end, the relationship between context and convention is closed and subtle, except
that Language is conventional and context is a compose of language.
The second pays serious attention to “ implicature”, the difference between “implicature” and “implication”,
conversational implicature and conventional implicature. In the first place, a conversational implicature is
something which is left implicit in actual language use, but the term “implication” defines itself as a logical
relationship. They are two different facets in a language-using process. Secondly, to gain a overlook on
“implicature”, we must analysis some examples in our daily life conversation. Here for the limits of this article, we
can’t do that. Conversational implicature has a important pole in the university of everyday language use and it
must conform to its pragmatic contexts of use. But, conversely, conventional implicature is vice versa. The
conventional implicatures implicate by themselves, or ‘conventionally’ a certain state of the world, regardless of
their use, we say they don’t depend on a particular context of language use. Levinson pointed out: “Conventional
implcatures are non-truth-conditional inferences that are not derived from superordinate pragmatic principles like
the [Gricean] maxims, but are simply attached by convention to particular lexical items”(1983:127).
The third talks about reference and anaphora firmly. When something around us need to deal with but it is
still ambiguous, referring often need be adopted. For instance, to refer to a particular cow, we need something
indicating what to look for, and where: an indexical expression. But indexical expressions are pragmatically
determined, and the chief linguistic means of expressing an indexical relationship are called deitic elements. Then,
I discovered that I can’t understand the verse “from deixis to anaphora” well, so I have no opinions on it.
However, the most interesting for me is the difference between “implicature” and “implication”. It is a big
problem that is concerned with pragmatic use and logical referring. Up to now, many scholars have commented on
it with their own special opinions. But I doubted that not only “implicature” but also “implication”, they belong to
the mean of human thoughts. Because language activity in nature is a kind of human thoughts activity. Why they
can’t be integrated into a whole? Maybe it is innocent, but I think we can exchange a version to look through this
problem, such as from the cognitive linguistics, or other ways. (To the top)
20
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