LINGUIST List 13.1008

Fri Apr 12 2002

Diss: Pragmatics: Greenall "Socio-cognitive..."

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  1. ann.j.k.greenall, Pragmatics: Greenall "Socio-cognitive account of flouting..."

Message 1: Pragmatics: Greenall "Socio-cognitive account of flouting..."

Date: Tue, 09 Apr 2002 11:08:17 +0000
From: ann.j.k.greenall <>
Subject: Pragmatics: Greenall "Socio-cognitive account of flouting..."

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Program: Department of English
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001

Author: Ann Jorid Klungervik Greenall 

Dissertation Title: 
Towards a socio-cognitive account of flouting and flout-based meaning

Linguistic Field: Pragmatics 

Subject Language: English

Dissertation Abstract: 

H. P. Grice's Cooperative Principle postulates a connection between
certain principles of conversation (maxims), their observance and
breach, and the generation and interpretation of underlying
meaning. When a maxim is breached, Grice claimed, the hearer, who
assumes that the speaker is fundamentally cooperative, will go to
great lenghts to restore the assumption that the maxim nevertheless
has been observed. The hearer does this by trying to figure out
whether the speaker may have meant something else than what s/he

Grice's original theory amounts to little more than just a
sketch. Later attempts at developing the theory have all revolved
around a set of background assumptions regarding speaker and hearer,
language and communication anchored in Cartesian dualism: speakers and
hearers are seen as isolated individuals passing nicely wrapped
thoughts from one to the other, with perfect understanding as the
ultimate goal.

The present project starts from a different set of background
assumptions, one based in dialogism: speakers and hearers are seen as
fundamentally social beings, negotiating meaning on a basically shared
socio-cognitive arena, where approximation, rather than perfection, is
the goal. The consequences of this shift for Grice's theory are as
follows: his notion of cooperation (between isolated individuals)
should be replaced by a an assumption that human communicators are
fundamentally social from the start, due to a dialogical cognitive
make-up. The notion of maxim should be replaced by the idea that all
shared, socio-cultural constraints (not only textual ones) can be
meaning-productive in the breach. And the trichotomy breach - literal
meaning - (more or less definite) underlying meaning should be
replaced by a focus on meaning potentials, increased interpretational
activity as a result of 'unexpected occurrences', and negotiative

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