Conversation principles and second language utterances

Phyllis Kaburise

Abstract


Conversation principles, such as those of Grice (1957, 1968, 1975), Austin (1962), Searle (1962, 1969) are formulated to enable interlocutors to interact meaningfully, in a linguistic project. Non-observance and flouting of these principles occur regularly in the verbal behaviours of users of a language, indeed, sophisticated users of a language, sometimes deliberately go against these norms, as stylistic devices in their output. When such non-conformities occur, hearers and readers resort to implicatures, maxims, inferences and their general world knowledge to interpret an utterance. Although the decision to observe some, and not all of the principles during a linguistic encounter, may seem to be taken casually, it is the contention of this paper that such decisions are made deliberately, particularly, by users of a second language. This paper attempts to identify the selection processes involved in the creation of some utterances produced by Ghanaian and Tshivenda second language users of English, using Grice’s verbal interaction maxims. The discussion will focus on the tension between semantic and pragmatic meaning, the factors involved in the creation of linguistic meaning and the role that interaction requirements such as Grice’s conversational maxims and the concept of a New Englishes approach to language play in the creation of some second language utterances.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5785/23-1-47

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ISSN 2224-0012 (online); ISSN 0259-2312 (print)

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