The Theory Of Conversation By Paul Herbert Grice Essay

1065 Words Mar 11th, 2015 null Page
Paul Herbert Grice observed that in most conversations, what is meant often goes beyond what is said, and these additional meanings can generally be inferred and predicted. Thus, his theory of conversational implicature is based on pragmatic implications. They are not attached to the particular words and phrases in an utterance, but arise from contextual factors and the understanding the conventions used in conversations. The theory focuses not only on the semantic meaning of an utterance, but also on the different techniques of communication. Grice’s concept of conversation is based on the notion that the contributors to a conversation are rational and uniform in approach and therefore must obey a general principle of rationality known as the cooperative principle. While Grice claims the rationality and universality of his theory, and gives various reasons to support his theory, the objections by Keenan, Wilson and Sperber are justified and strong enough to weaken this theory.
Grice emphasized on the Cooperative Principle, and claimed it to be the basis of any conversation. He stated the nine maxims of conversation, that a speaker must follow, and grouped them into four categories: Quantity, Quality, Relation and Manner. The Maxims of Quantity focus on information. They are, “Make your contribution as informative as is required for the current purposes of the exchange” and “Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.” The maxims of Quality focus on…

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