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Title:The interplay of pragmatic inference, face and emotion
Author(s):Vergis, Nikolaos
Director of Research:Terkourafi, Marina; Christianson, Kiel
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Terkourafi, Marina
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Culpeper, Jonathan; Ionin, Tania
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):pragmatic inference
Abstract:The present thesis is concerned with the interplay of pragmatic inference, face and emotion. Pragmatic inference refers to inferences that hearers or observers make when attempting to arrive at speaker meaning, a process during which they presumably operate according to the Maxims postulated by Grice (1975). The empirical phenomena that this thesis takes as a starting point are mock impoliteness, banter and teasing. The literature reveals a rather complicated picture of what speakers intend and how hearers respond when engaging in these types of acts. Sometimes, people seem to achieve solidarity effects without using strong contextual cues (such as flouting the Maxim of Quality) and other times they have hard time comprehending remarks even when contextual cues are very salient (such as when the Maxim of Quality is flouted). This thesis attempts to provide some answers to this communicative paradox. In doing that, it considers two additional important parameters: impolite forms and perspective taking. Four experiments were conducted in order to investigate the effect of these factors. Experiment 1 showed that when the Maxim of Quality is flouted, this, in combination with remarks considered obviously (or less obviously) impolite, leads to solidarity inferences. However, obviously impolite remarks are not necessarily taken to generate more impoliteness effects in context than remarks that do not express impolite meanings. Experiment 2 examined the interaction between the Maxim of Quality and face concerns. Results showed that both factors, the Maxim of Quality and face concerns, contributed to the generation of solidarity inferences. Experiment 3 investigated the interaction between the Maxim of Quality and the speaker’s emotional state. Results showed that flouting the Maxim of Quality contributed the most to the derivation of solidarity inferences. The recognition of the speaker’s emotional state plays a significant role in inferring the speaker’s friendly or hostile attitude towards the hearer but plays a less important role in other dimensions of speaker meaning. Experiment 4 examined the Maxim of Quality and the role of perspective. Results revealed that, as in the previous experiments, flouting the Maxim of Quality results in solidarity inferences. However, under the perspective of the hearer as opposed to the perspective of the speaker, things look grimmer. In conclusion, the results of these four experiments combined suggest that a) inferences derived from flouting the Maxim of Quality are very robust, but also that face and emotion constitute sources of information which interlocutors take into account to draw solidarity inferences, and b) hearers tend to construe speaker meaning in a less affiliative manner than speakers think. These results have important implications for pragmatic theory and open the way for a more thorough investigation of affective factors in pragmatics and communication.
Issue Date:2015-06-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Nikolaos Vergis
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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