The Principle of Cooperation in Pragmatics (and how we flaunt it)
Thread poster: Elías Sauza

Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 11:56
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jun 21, 2003

A posting in this site prompted in me the idea of retaking Grice's principle of cooperation. In the referred posting some specific information is asked but, with one exception, the replies had little or nothing to do with the request. I deem unnecessary to refer to the link here.

Below is Grice's principle of cooperation, which as such could be an important factor in human interaction, but as happens to other principles, is frequently disregarded in detriment of communication:

Co-Operation
Grice claimed that people make assumptions in communication, and that the basic assumption is that speakers behaved CO-OPERATIVELY. In other words, hearers assume that speakers are abiding by the four GRICEAN MAXIMS which constitute Grice's CO-OPERATIVE PRINCIPLE:

Maxim of Quantity: Be as informative as required, no more or less
Maxim of Quantity: Do not state what you know to be false or are unsure of
Maxim of Quantity: Be relevant
Maxim of Quantity: Be clear, brief and orderly

If interested in this topic, here´s one link: http://www.compapp.dcu.ie/~alex/CA163/ch5.html

[Edited at 2003-06-21 21:02]


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xxxga5
English to Ukrainian
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yes Jun 21, 2003

but these grice/s principles are taken from normal i mean human relation..
as well as the bible priiciples - love your neibour as youself --- if you respect other people you will be honest with them...

you will consider max of quality
and quantity
etc





Elías Sauza wrote:

A posting in this site prompted in me the idea of retaking Grice's principle of cooperation. In the referred posting some specific information is asked but, with one exception, the replies had little or nothing to do with the request. I deem unnecessary to refer to the link here.

Below is Grice's principle of cooperation, which as such coiuld be an important factor in human interaction, but as happens to other principles, is frequently disregarded in detriment of communication:

Co-Operation
Grice claimed that people make assumptions in communication, and that the basic assumption is that speakers behaved CO-OPERATIVELY. In other words, hearers assume that speakers are abiding by the four GRICEAN MAXIMS which constitute Grice's CO-OPERATIVE PRINCIPLE:

Maxim of Quantity: Be as informative as required, no more or less
Maxim of Quantity: Do not state what you know to be false or are unsure of
Maxim of Quantity: Be relevant
Maxim of Quantity: Be clear, brief and orderly

If interested in this topic, here´s one link: http://www.compapp.dcu.ie/~alex/CA163/ch5.html[/quote]

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Patricia Lutteral  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 13:56
English to Spanish
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Excellent Jun 22, 2003

Thanks for pointing this out, Elias. You definitely have a point here.

Have a great Sunday,

Patricia


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Andrea Bullrich  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:56
English to Spanish
Wow, VERY interesting Jun 22, 2003

Great link too. Thanks Elías!

Andrea


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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 11:56
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Maxims of Quantity, Quality, Relevance, and Manner Jun 22, 2003

I noticed an error in the list of Maxims of the first posting above. All are listed as of "Quantity" but should be, respectively, of Quantity, Quality, Relevance, and Manner.

Have a nice weekend (finde).


The maxim of Manner

Avoid obscurity and ambiguity, be brief and orderly.

- I love you

- I love you

The maxim of Quantity

Make your contribution as (but not more) informative as is required for the current purposes of the exchange.

Grice's cooperative maxims are the unsaid norms. When I ask What are you doing tonight?, not only do you reply with an informative and cooperative answer (Oh, nothing much), but I can make the assumption that you're being informative and cooperative.

That is, that you're telling the truth.

Because, if your night consisted of "nothing much" and then meeting the Queen -- "Oh, nothing much" would still be true. But not maximally true, which is what this maxim demands.

And so - with my background assumptions - your reply expands in my mind to: Nothing much, nothing that would interest you, and this is true for the whole of the night.

Which is why, when you don't answer the telephone later, I assume you're in the bath, or asleep, or have popped out for a takeaway. Something like that.

The maxim of Quality

Try to make your contribution one that is true, do not say what you believe to be false and do not say that for which you lack evidence.

Try as I might, I say "yeah, fine" inbetween your "how are you?" and your kiss. And I'm sure my smile's a bit stiff, because I'm just a bit unsure at the moment. Maybe I'm a suspicious person, maybe I'm imagining things, but there are evenings you steer the conversation away from, and I'm beginning to suspect they weren't nights-in-alone. There's your friend at work you used to mention a lot, but one day you stopped and you haven't said his name for months now.

There's a distance in your eyes, sometimes, when we talk. Just occassionally. Just occassionally you're not completely there, the verbal play isn't as free and easy, it's ritualised, going through the motions.

I struggle to make sense of it. Another night your mobile has redirected to voicemail and I know you'll call me back in half an hour with a plausible reason, but my mind's churning so I'm having a shower to clear my head, and thinking:

What if I said this? And you said this? Then I replied with this?

Playing out combinations, conversations in my head. Like chess.

And so I model possible futures, there in hot water and the steam. A conversation navigating its way between islands disallowed by Gricean communication. If I ask the right questions, I get the right answers.

The number of worlds of outcomes grows too quickly. To anything I say, you can reply with a million things. A universe of conversations after a minute. So prune. Discard the conversations where you admit an affair. I don't want to end like that. Keep the ones where you say you still love me. Do I have any left? If I don't ask you if you love me still, then you won't say no.

A jet of water hits the palm of my hand, spraying out in all directions. Each drop falling in the same place, each dispersing in a different way. In the end, all we have are these generalisations: whichever way the spray goes, in the end it falls.

So I don't say anything.

The maxim of Relevance

Make your contribution relevant.

Over dinner we're discussing the on-again off-again war and speculating about mutual friends.

Grice's maxims aren't absolute. Break them for sarcasm, irony, humour, lies. That's what makes things funny, the juxtaposition of expectation and reality. They're mutually understood baselines, and interpretation is easier - is possible - if everyone conforms, if you can assume everyone conforms.

But you don't have to cooperate, you don't have to spare someone's feelings. If I ask no questions, you'll tell no lies. Or you won't lie, and I don't know which is worse. What would Grice say?

Just like a conversation doesn't have to follow a thread of relevance. You can branch off, to suddenly introduce a new topic, out of the blue, or just because you have to know, because it's eating you up inside. Grice wouldn't ask, not here, not now. But I would. Deep breath.

- Are you seeing someone else?


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 12:56
SITE FOUNDER
Good advice for forum posters Jun 23, 2003

Thanks for the interesting posting.

Asa Kasher explained Grice's "Cooperative Principle" this way: "Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged."

By omitting the words conversational and talk from this formulation, one gets a general principle of cooperation.


An ideal approach for these forums!

http://www.tau.ac.il/~kasher/prprag.htm


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