English Language and Literature B

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  • Created by: Ashleigh
  • Created on: 28-05-13 10:39


The Co-operative Principle

Grice has four maxims which are to be applied to speech to see if it is co-operative:

Quantity-  The amount that a speaker is saying. You need to give the right about of information. Don't make it more informative than necessary.


Quality- What the speaker is saying. Try to make your contribution one that is true. Do not lie.


Relevance- The contribution needs to be relevant to the conversation.


Manner- Be clear. Avoid unnecessary wordliness. Try to avoid being ambiguous or obscure.


Grice believes these maxims are either flouted  (the deliberate departure of a maxim) or violated (the unintentional departure of a maxim).

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Prosodic features of speech- The pitch, tone, loudness, stress etc of the speech

Paralinguistic features- The body language that accompanies the speech.

Exclamative- To exclaim e.g. "HOW DARE YOU!"

Interrogative- A question e.g. "Where have you been?"

Declarative- Most common sentence type where by you are stating something e.g. "It's a nice day."

Imperative-  A command e.g. "Go and revise" (used a lot in recipes)

Back channel behaviour- Prases such as "uh-huh" or "mmmm" to show the speaker they are being listened to.

Contraction- e.g." can't", "won't". Usually contain and apostrophe

Ellision- Often confused with contractions. Ellision is the combination of two words e.g. "gonna" "dunno"

Deixis/ deictics- Dependent on context e.g. "that", "this". Referencing something the speaker can see.

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Terminology continued

Intonation- Prosodic feature. Going up at the end of a sentence, making it sound like a question.

Interactional talk- Talking to friends/ family

Transactional talk- Talking to get something done e.g. talking to a shop assistant, doctor, pharmacist etc.

Phatic talk- Conversational utterances e.g. "How are you?"

Sociolect- The class of the speaker. Often indicated by their vocabulary.

Tag questions- Added on to the end of a declarative sentence to show they want back channel behaviour e.g. "You will go to the pharmacy, won't you?"

Pedagogic talk-  Found in classrooms. The structure of this is usually:

                                                                  1) Teacher asks a question.

                                                                  2) There is an answer/response

                                                                  3) Teacher feeds back

                                                        (Also known as Exchange Structure Theory)   

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Brown and Levison- "Face saving" theory

Politeness expresses concern for others and minimalises threat to self esteem (face).

Brown and Levison believe we are politer to those: we don't know, who have greater power or we want a favour from.

Leech- Maxims and Sub-maxims

Tact : maximise benifit to others.

Generosity : minimise benifit to self.

Approbation : minimise dispraise of others.

Modesty : minimises self praise.

Agreement : minimises disagreement.

Sympathy : minimises antipathy between self and other.

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Politeness continued

Modes of address

An easy way to determine context is looking at how speakers refer to one another e.g. If refering to someone by first name or nickname it is more informal than being refered to as Miss/Mrs/Mr etc.

Also helps to show who is superior in the conversation by seeing how they are spoken to.


Willamova- "Not saying something but softly."

Subjectivity marker: "I think...", "I suppose..." Shows it is not universally true but is the opinion of the speaker so there is opportunity for disagreement.

Performative hedges: e.g. "I swear..."

Pragmatic idioms- "Please","Kindly","Perhaps"

Pseudo conditionals-  Polite refusals e.g. "Thanks, but..." or "Sorry, but..."

Down graders- "Just in case", "a bit", "a few"

(You don't need to know all the different types but extra info is always useful I find)

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Gender and Talk

Women                                                                   Men

Talk more than men                                               Swear more

Talk too much                                                        Don't talk about emotions

More polite                                                             Talk about sport more

Indecisive/hesitant                                                 Talk about women and machines in the same way

Complain/nag                                                         Insult each other frequently

Ask more questions                                               Are more competative in conversation

Support each other                                                Dominate conversation

Are more co-operative                                           Speak with more authority    

                                                                               Give more commands

                                                                               Interupt more

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Gender and Talk- Lakoff 1975

Women apparently:

  • Hedge- e.g. "sort of...", "Kind of..." (see Politeness)
  • Use (super)polite forms-  "Would you mind...", "...if you don't mind"
  • Use tag questions- " You are coming, aren't you?"
  • Use empty adjectives- devine, lovely, nice etc
  • Use direct quotation- men paraphrase
  • Have a special lexicon- e.g. women have more words for colours than men.
  • Use intonation- making declaratives into questions (see terminology)
  • Speak less frequently
  • Overuse qualifiers- e.g. "I think that..."
  • Appologise more
  • Avoid expletives
  • Use indirect commands or requests- e.g. "It's cold in here, isnt' it?" instead of "Can you close the window?"
  • Use more intensifiers- e.g. "so" and "very"
  • Lack a sense of humor- don't tell jokes well or don't get the punch line.

Older theory so some may not be relevant today.

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Accommodation Theory

Howard Giles suggests we adjust our speech to "accommodate" the person we are addressing.

We either converge  or diverge:


Convergence - Is when we move our speech closer to that of the other person.



Divergence- Is when we move further from the other persons speech.


Convergence  decreases the social distance between people; whereas divergence  highlights the social distance.

Convergence can either be downwards(playing down/ toning down your speech) or upwards(moving speech closer to Queen's English). If both participants converge towards each other, it is known as mutual convergence.

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joanne mangan

Very useful.Thanks

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