LINGUIST List 11.2652

Thu Dec 7 2000

Qs: Gricean Pragmatics Text,History of Ling Thought

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  1. Peter Svenonius, Gricean Pragmatics Text - Source?
  2. Daller, Helmut, History of Linguistic Thought - videos

Message 1: Gricean Pragmatics Text - Source?

Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 14:09:47 +0100
From: Peter Svenonius <>
Subject: Gricean Pragmatics Text - Source?

I am in the awkward position of trying to determine whether
a freshman term paper is an exceptionally well-written and clear
discussion of Gricean pragmatics or a shameless example of
plagiary. My colleagues and I have looked at introductory texts
on pragmatics but have not found a likely source. Does
anybody out there recognize the following sample passages?

"Let us say that Mr. Ironside is running late for an important meeting. He
knows where the meeting is to be held, it is somewhere on Weissmueller
Street, but he has no idea how to get there. So he stops Mrs. Emerson on
the way to the grocery store and asks, "Excuse me, but do you know the
shortest way to Weissmueller Street?" Mrs. Emerson, seeing that Mr.
Ironside is in a hurry, starts giving him directions to the best of her
ability, but it is not an easy task. Weissmueller Street is literally on
the other side of town, and explaining the most efficient route through the
intricate maze of squares and alleys is exceedingly hard. Although Mrs.
Emerson knows perfectly well where Weissmueller Street is, she offers only
a vague and largely insufficient set of directives, and at the end she
adds, "...but if you take the subway you could be there in ten minutes,"
whereupon Mr. Ironside, who had for some reason not considered this
possibility, replies, "thank you very much" and heads for the nearest
subway station."

Another randomly selected paragraph:

'The Maxim of Manner'
"In any conversation utterances are expected to be as concise and orderly
as possible. Let us say that Mrs. Baxter comes home from work one day and
asks her husband how his day has been, whereupon he answers, "He ordered a
chicken salad. I couldn't get the car started this morning. I had lunch
with Mr. Eastwood. I think she is developing a drinking problem. I had a
chicken salad too. I arrived for work almost an hour late. Miss Cox doesn't
seem to be doing too well these days. We went to the little Spanish
restaurant across the street from Toby's. I was fired. I left my wallet in
the car...", and so forth. By this time Mrs. Baxter is probably assuming
that her husband is about to have a nervous breakdown, or something to that
effect. Mr. Baxter is clearly violating the maxim of manner. Although his
account of the day's events is not exactly ambiguous or obscure, he fails
to be orderly. His wife, as most speakers of the English language would,
expects her husband to follow a chronological order when describing how his
day has been, and as he does not do so she finds it very hard to form a
correct idea of the situation. She also expects him to provide her with the
most important information first, and in this case the most important piece
of intelligence is likely to be that her husband has lost his job. In any
case it is clear that Mr. Baxter has neglected the importance of being

Peter Svenonius

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Message 2: History of Linguistic Thought - videos

Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 14:36:20 +0000 (GMT)
From: Daller, Helmut <>
Subject: History of Linguistic Thought - videos

Dear colleagues,

I am preparing a module on "History of Linguistic Thought". 
Does anybody know videos (for teaching purposes) about that 
topic or related areas?

Helmut Daller

- --------------------------------------
Dr Helmut Daller
University of the West of England
Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane
Bristol BS16 1QY
Tel: 0117-344 2392
Fax: 0117-344 2820
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