1.1 Grice’s Cooperative Principle and maxims of conversation
As humans we are social beings and when we talk we usually talk with or to others (unless we do a monologue). Paul Grice, an English language philosophe, argues that speakers intend to be cooperative when they talk. For Grice, cooperative means that the speaker knows that each utterance is a potential interference in the personal rights, autonomy and wishes ( a potential face-threatening act) of the other. That is why we have to shape our utterances in a certain way. Grice formulated the principle of cooperation that underlies conversation, as follows:
Grice’s cooperative principle is a set of norms that are expected in conversations. It consists of four maxims, we have to follow in order to be cooperative and understood:
- Maxim of quality : As speaker we have to tell the truth or something that is provable by adequate evidence.
- Maxim of quanity: We have to be as informative as required, we should not say more or less.
- Maxim of relation: Our response has to be relevant to the topic of discussion.
- Maxim of manner: We have to avoid ambiguity or obscurity; we should be direct and straightforward.
Yet, successful communication does not only depend on WHAT we are saying but also on HOW we are saying something!