Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Language, Context and Communication

When academic theorizing addresses everyday communication phenomena, there are losses as well as gains. Researches may be selectively or otherwise, partially represent the full subtlety of contextualized interaction. Methodological constraints may impose their own selectivity, so that we tend to access the accessible and learn what is most readily learnable. The real time nature of programmatic research will reflect epistemological shifts and disciplinary development. It is altogether likely, that academic and lay versions of the phenomena themselves and their boundaries will not perfectly mirror each other at any one point.   

Spoken versus Written Genres of Discourse
There are certain crucial differences between spoken and written discourse. It has been clearly demonstrated that writing is not just spoken language written down (Biber 1988, 1992, 1995). Distinctions in lexico-grammatical and rhetorical structures tend to occur between spoken and written language, depending on the genre. For a second language learner, this means that regardless of one’s proficiency in speaking, conventions of writing may pose a challenge.
One traditional view (e.g., Goody and Watt 1968) is that written discourse is of a higher order—more logical, formal, and complex than oral discourse and is therefore superior to it. However, the traits considered superior by proponents of this view are not necessarily confined to written genres. The notion of formality, for example, is an aspect of many spoken genres, such as courtroom argumentations or academic presentations, while some written genres, such as email or personal diaries, can be considered informal. As Ochs (1979) points out, rather than using the terms formal and informal, it may be more appropriate to speak of planned versus unplanned discourse to describe the differences between such cases. Furthermore, spoken genres are not unstructured or illogical; work in conversation analysis (e.g., Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson 1974; Atkinson and Heritage 1984) has clearly demonstrated that the most casual of conversations is a tightly structured system. The orchestration of turn taking involves a high degree of social coordination. Sacks (1967) observed in a lecture:
One person can start up talking within one tenths; two tenths—that order of speed—of a second after another had done what is, upon much later reflection by an analyst, something that seems to be a sentence. (Jefferson 1995, 650)
Thus, the belief that conversation is somehow random or chaotic when compared to writing is untenable. Instead, the point of view taken here is not that written language is superior to spoken but that any genre of communication is likely to have unique characteristics that differentiate it from other genres.
 Nevertheless, within this view, certain general characteristics can be said to manifest themselves differently in written versus spoken genres. At the organizational level, there is a tendency for rhetorical structures to distinguish the two modes. For example, the separation  of topics into chunks or paragraphs in many genres of writing contrasts with the gradual shift from one subject to the next, or topic shading (Schegloff 1990), that is likely to occur in conversation. Moreover, explicit cohesive devices, such as the phrases “the second point” or “in contrast,” are often used to link topic units together in academic essays, while conversation is more often replete with discourse markers—such as “well,” “oh,” and “so” (Schiffrin 1987)—to indicate organizational structure. At the lexico-grammatical level, Biber (1988, 1992) has found statistical evidence that the frequency with which specific grammatical structures occur differs between spoken and written genres. His method was to conduct computer based searches of huge corpora of texts to discover sets of linguistic features common to various text types. Some of these characteristics may be traced to the differing functions that particular genres serve. As Kaplan (1987, 14) notes, because requests for information are less common in written language than in many spoken genres, patterns of question formation are more likely to be found in spoken discourse. To add other examples, scientific writing contains frequent nominalizations (Halliday 1988)—such as “the execution of the experiment,” rather than “we executed the experiment”—and many written genres are likely to include parallel structures, sentential organization, and embedded, instead of conjoined, clauses (Hatch 1992, elaborating on Ochs 1979).
Furthermore, the expression of emotion and attitude is different in spoken versus written genres. In speaking, one can rely more on facial expressions, gestures, and prosody—the pitch, timing, and volume of the voice—to convey a variety of meanings and emotions (Wennerstrom 2001). Although written genres can be equally expressive, such expressions must be conveyed either through more elaborate lexico-grammatical descriptions or through punctuation, special fonts, and so on. A related difference involves the relationship between the speaker/writer and the audience. Spontaneous conversation tends to involve a continual negotiation of what direction the interaction will take next, as each participant responds verbally or non-verbally to the last contribution. In the case of a misunderstanding, for example, one speaker can immediately indicate that clarification is needed, and the other can repair or otherwise redirect what has been said (Clark 1992). Likewise, one person’s feedback to another’s remark can affect the direction the topic takes. In most genres of writing, in contrast, it is necessary to imagine the audience reaction. Planning, composing, and revising with the audience in mind are part of the process. Thus, as Kaplan (1987, 17) notes, a written text may be “merely a way stage” in the evolution of a finished written product. In general, writers have more opportunity than speakers to review, revise, or otherwise “polish” their output. This generalization does not apply universally, as there are genres of speaking, such as formal speeches, that involve composing and polishing, as well as genres of writing, such as list making and form filling that may be relatively spontaneous. Moreover, the luxury of revision is not necessarily an advantage, because there is higher audience expectation for written genres. In conversation, participants expect false starts, hesitations, slips of the tongue, and so on as a natural part of the interaction, whereas readers of finished written products may be less tolerant of these so-called errors.

The role of context in interpretation
1.      Pragmatics and discourse context
The discourse analyst has to take account of the context in which a piece of discourse occurs. Some of the most obvious linguistic elements for their interpretation are the deictic forms as here, now, I, you, this and that. In order to interpret these elements in a piece of discourse it is necessary to know who the speaker and hearer are and the time and place of the production of the discourse. By using the terms such as reference, presupposition, implicate and inference the analyst is describing what speakers and hearers are doing and not the relationship which exists between are sentence or proposition and another.

i)                    Reference
According to Lyons (1968), “the relationship which holds between words and things is the relationship of reference: words refer things.” Referring is not something an expression does; it is something that someone can use an expression to do. In discourse analysis, reference is treated as an action on the part of the speakers/writers.
For example:
A:        My uncle’s coming home from Canada on Sunday he’s due in
B:        How long has he been away for or has he just been away?
A:        Oh no, they lived in Canada eh he was married to my mother’s sister well. She’s been dead for number of years now
Here, speaker A uses the expressions ‘my uncle’ and ‘he’ to refer to one individual and ‘my mother’s sister’ and ‘she’ to refer to another.
ii)                  Presupposition
In the preceding conversation fragment, speaker A threats the information that she has an uncle as presuppositions are what is taken by the speaker to be the common ground of the participants in the conversation. Presuppositions used in discourse analysis are pragmatic ones. For example:
  1. My uncle’s earning home from Canada
  2. My uncle is not coming home from Canada
  3. I have an uncle
Here, sentence (b) is unnecessary while sentence (c) is a presupposition of the speaker in uttering sentence (a).

iii)                Implicate
The term “Implicate” is used by Grice (1975) to account for what a speaker can imply “suggest” mean, or distinct from what the speaker literally says. There are two types of implicature. They are:
a)      Conventional: It is determined by the conventional meaning of the words used. For example: “He is an Englishman; he is, therefore, brave.”
b)     Conversational: It is derived from a general principle plus a number of maxims which speakers will normally obey. The conversational conventions which support co-operative principle, are as followers:
Quantity: Make contribution as is required. Do not make contribution more informative than is required.
Quality: Do not say what is believed that it may be false
Relation: Be relevant
Manner: Be perspicuous. Avoid obscurity of expression. Avoid ambiguity. Be brief and orderly.
So, implicatures are produced in a specific context shared by the speaker and the hearer
iv)                Inference
This process is used to arrive at an interpretation for utterances or for the connections between utterances. For example:
“In the kitchen there was a huge dresser and when anyone went in you see to the hats and coats were all dumped and this dresser.”
Here, inferences:
a)      The hats and coats belong to the visitor to the house;
b)      The house has the dresses;
c)      The douser is in the kitchen.
Reference, presupposition, implicature and inference must be treated as pragmatic concepts in the discourse analysis. The pragmatic use of these terms is closely tied to the context in which a discourse occurs.

2. The context of situation
Since the beginning of the 1970s, linguists have become increasingly aware of the importance of context in the interpretation of sentences.
                   I.            Features of context: consider two invented scenarios in which an identical utterance is produced by two distinct speakers.
a)      Speaker: a young mother, hearer: her mother-in-law, place: park, by a duck pond, time: sunny afternoon, in September 1962. They are watching the young mother’s two –year old son chasing ducks and the mother – in- law has just remarked that her son, the child’s father was rather backward at this age. The young mother says:
“I do think Adam’s quick”
b)      Speaker: a student, hearer: a set of students, place; sitting round a coffee table in the refectory, time: evening in March 1980. John, one of the groups, has just told a joke. Everyone laughs, one of the students says:
I do think Adams’s quick
Here, in both cases, the speaker says of Adam that he is quick. It is clear that, the utterance in the contexts of situation in which they are cited would be taken to convey very different messages. In (a), Adam is being compared with his father. Quick may be interpreted, in the context of backward, as meaning something like, “quick in developing”. In (b), Adam is being compared not with his father and favorably, but with the set of other students unfavorably. In this case, ‘quick’ must be interpreted as meaning something like ‘quick to understand /react/see’ the joke.
J.R. Firth was concerned to embed the utterance in the social context and to generalize across meanings in specified social contexts. On the other hand, Hymes views the role of context in interpretation as, on the one hand, limiting the range of possible interpretations and, on the other, as supporting the intended interpretations: “A context can support a range of meanings. When a form is used in a context it eliminates the meanings possible to that context other than those the form can signal.” (Hymes, 1962)
  1. Co- text
The interpretation of individual lexical items is constrained by co- text. Consider this text of the beginning of a 16 years old Scottish pupil’s account of a simple cartoon:
a: “a man and women sitting in the living room -  the women sitting reading suite happily – the mean’s bored goes to the window + and gets himself ready and goes out +”
The reader must interpret the woman sitting reading quite happily as the ‘woman’ already mentioned, hence must construct and interpretation which has her ‘sitting reading quite happily in the living room’. The speaker continues with a change of location and we have to assume that what follows in within the newly introduced location:
b: goes this goes to a club + has a drink talks to the barman + then he starts dancing with a beautiful girl long black hair  + has a good time +
So, communications do not merely depend on the context for their interpretation, they change that context.

3.      The expanding Context
A problem for the discourse analyst is to decide when a particular feature is relevant to the specification of a particular context and what degree of specification is required. Some features are directly related to the deictic context and those features which will permit interpretation for deictic context like the tempered expression here and the 1st person expression I.
‘Here’ and ‘now’ expressions are described as ‘displaced contexts’. For example: the utterance will land here said by one astronaut to another, on earth, as they study a map of the moon.  Speakers or writers do have the option of transferring the deictic centre to the hearer’s or readers, spatio-temporal situation in which the text will be encountered. So, it must be obvious that, deictic expressions may retain a standard deictic centre but must be interpreted with respect to the content of the utterance in which they occur.
Lyons (1977) distinguishes between the deictic role of an individual and his social role or status. Lyons points out that, for example the terms of address used by a social inferior to a social superior may be different from those used between peers, as in vocative terms like sir or doctor or my lord (in the Courtroom).
In different social contexts, different terms of address will be found. In general, we may assume that, in a particular social context, only are role is taken by an individual at one particular fine.
A discourse analyst is working in the real world to see those properties of the features of context which are relevant to the particular communicative act and which contribute to the interpretation of the utterance.

4.      The principles of ‘Local interpretation’ and of ‘analogy’
There must be principles of interpretation available to the hearer which enables him to determine a relevant and reasonable interpretation of an expression. This principle is called the principle of local interpretation. For example: if he hears someone say, ‘shut the door’ he will look towards the nearest door available for being shut. If his host says come early, he will interpret early with respect to the last mentioned time, rather than to some previously mentioned time. So, this principle instructs the hearer not to construct a context any larger than he needs to arrive of an interpretation.

Pragmatics, prosody, and contextual analysis

In discourse analysis, as in phonology, lexicon and syntax, the linguist’s task is to identify structural units and the processes that operate on those units. For many linguists, the most interesting relationship included in this book is the one between discourse and syntax.

From the analysis of rhetorical structure, we can make predictions about the types of syntactic structures that will appear in certain types of discourse. We can predict, for example, that in narrative discourse storytellers will use a series of temporally ordered clauses with highly transitive verbs. Tense/aspect may separate the major actions of these clauses from ongoing parallel actions or clauses giving background information. In procedural and advice giving discourse, we also expect speakers and writers to select a series of temporally ordered actions, but the agent is more likely to be neutral. Therefore we can anticipate a large number of imperative and passive constructions, and introductory phrases such as “in order to X” and “to X” may set the stage for the focused action. Time in such discourse is also usually neutral; there is much less focus placed on the use of tense/aspect to precisely locate time relationships. In descriptive discourse, we expect speakers to use introductory presentatives, identification through BE copula and possessive HAVE and spatial relationships via prepositional phrases. Also, we have seen that the mode or degree of planning in discourse may influence the types of syntactic structures we choose. We can expect more complex verb morphology and more explicit marking of embedded and subordinate clauses in planned written discourse than in unplanned talk. An analysis of discourse data, then, reveals the selections we typically make in using syntax to carry out our discourse intent.

If, however, our primary interest is in syntax, we may approach our analysis in a very different way. Rather than analyzing discourse to discover the types of syntactic choices that might be made for particular functions, we might begin by posing an interesting question about syntax and then trying to answer the question by looking at the discourse context in which the structures occur.

Thus, there is a difference in asking “How is ‘and’ used?” and saying “narratives include a series of temporally ordered clauses that show the steps in solving a problem, and these clauses are often connected by ‘and’ or ‘and then.’” A study that asks “How is X used?” calls for a combination of syntactic, pragmatic and context analysis. Celce-Murcia (1980) calls this combination contextual analysis. The result of a contextual analysis might show that while descriptive grammars tell us something about when forms are used, the choice of form is influenced by genre, the purpose of the communication, the relationship of writer and reader or speaker and listener, the message content, and the context  in which the communication takes place. In the language classroom, the teacher’s expectations and the talk that surrounds the writing task might cause students to use particular structures for particular purposes. Pragmatics also helps to explain why and when particular language forms, rather than others, are selected. Before we turn to the methods used in contextual analysis, let us review some of what we already know about pragmatics.

In linguistics, we often talk about meaning that derives from syntax and semantics. Meaning, however, is more than syntactic form and semantics. Pragmatic meaning is that which comes from the context rather than from syntax and semantics. The study of what speakers mean to convey when they use a particular structure in context is called the study of pragmatics. The general classification of speech acts as representatives, directives, commissives, declaratives, and expressives which was drawn by Searle (1975, 1976) also talks about speaker intent. For example, the sentence “I didn’t see you” has truth value and so can be classified as a representative. However, it could also have a pragmatic meaning of an excuse or apology. A seeming representative such as “I lost my purse” might have the pragmatic meanings, rather than literal meanings, are conveyed by these utterances.
Grice (1975) claimed that what is conveyed by an utterance falls into two parts: what is said and what is implied. He uses the term “implicature” to cover what is implied. In Grice’s system, there are two types of implicature: conventional and conversational.

Conventional implicature
Through experience, we learn the conversations that govern our use of expressions on certain purposes. Philosophers and linguists categorize some of these conventions in terms of entailment, paraphrase, conventional metaphorical meanings, presupposition, and implicatives.
Philosophers interested in the logic of conventional implicature look at how we use entailment in attributing meanings to utterances. Entailment means that both propositions are true in the world being described. Since utterances can be relevant to more than one state of affairs, entailments are dependent on the context. Philosophers also use paraphrase as a method to determine conventional implicature when assigning appropriate speaker meaning to an utterance within a context. We may use linguistic signals of paraphrase to make our meanings clear within a context.
Philosophers also include metaphorical meanings as conventional implicature for assigning meaning to speech acts. A metaphor brings together two distinct concepts in a way that lets us see similarities. Metaphors can also summarize and synthesize meaning. A good metaphor can make clear a whole argument, because it calls up or invokes a much larger context. To some extent, at least, the use of metaphor asks us to use conventional implicature to give an altered meaning to a speech act. Representative as speech acts have truth value.
There are a number of syntactic features that relate to presupposition. Karttunen (1971), for example, identified a group of implicatives-verbs like “manage” that indirectly convey both a presupposition and an implication. Thus, by using a conventional syntactic signal, the truth claims of representatives can be modified or the signal can show that something more than a representative is being said. In addition to implicative verbs, sentential adverbs can change the degree of truthfulness to be given to utterances.

Conversational implicature
Grice’s second type of implicature differs in scope. Called conversational implicature, it contrasts with conventional implicature in that the meanings of utterances are only indirectly associated with their linguistic content. According to Grice, these implications are drawn from the principles of cooperative conversation. Grice’s maxim of quality(i.e. truthfulness) is violated, and the conversational implicature is that the utterance is meant in irony. Of course, it is not always easy to determine whether meanings come from conversational or from conventional implicature. Since entailment and presupposition are involved, we might, then, say that meaning here is derived from conventional implicature. However, these implications are also based on Goffman’s (1976) ritual or social, constraints for conversation. When we make a request, we assume that the request will be granted, that we will not be thought rude or pushy, and so forth. In this case, a conversational convention is being violated, and the meaning in the exchange relies on conversational implicature. Thus it becomes difficult to assign meanings exclusively to one or the other type of implicature.

Contextual analysis
In applied linguistics, Celce-Murcia (1980) has renewed interest in using context to understand how and when we select particular linguistic forms. She calls this method of discourse analysis contextual analysis. Teachers are often asked to explain a particular grammatical form is used in a particular place. The experiment may be based on pragmatics, it may be based on differences between oral and written forms, it may have to do with formality or it may be a syntactic requirement. The first step in any contextual analysis is to find an interesting question to research. Many linguists, including Bolinger and Celce-Murcia, have been very interested in accounting for seemingly synonymous syntactic forms.
The replacement of adverbial clauses may be very much conditioned by what we hope to accomplish in the discourse. Recall Halliday and Hasan’s distinction between anaphoric and cataphoric reference, that, in a sense, an adverbial clause in initial position serves as cataphoric framework for what is to come. When we need to prepare the listener or reader for what is about to be explained, we may select an initial adverbial clause. Perhaps the relation between initial versus final clause placement and the principle of guiding the reader or listener are clearest when we are being taken on a tour. The claim about initial versus final adverbials rests on example data, linguistic conjecture, and on questionnaire data. Since questionnaires ask for preference judgments, Celce-Murcia believes they are suspect. She points out that it is important to check natural language texts to see whether generalizations drawn from questionnaires occur in real data.
            A second method, for carrying out a contextual analysis is to look for examples of particular structures within a discourse database. It can validate findings of the first method of creating mini situations that ask native speakers to decide which of seemingly synonymous structures they would prefer. Each of these methods has been widely used by Celce-Murcia and her students.  
            “Context” in contextual analysis is a very broad term. It could include all the areas of discourse based on this linguistic topic. Scripts call up context, speech events set context, rhetorical forms provide context, cohesion and coherence constrains choice of language forms and therefore also reflect context. So, in a sense, contextual analysis is another way of looking at discourse analysis and its methods can be layered with other types of discourse analysis to reveal the many ways that context influences our choice of syntactic forms.

Prosody and context
            When we listen to speakers, we obtain much more information than what is actually given in the words uttered. We get information on personal variables such as age, gender, and perhaps temperament and character; sociolinguistic information such as where speakers are from, their social membership, their status, or the formality they think situations have. Much of this information comes from prosody, the supra segmental system made up of intonation, stress, rhythm, and pitch. At the discourse level, this system also gives us information on the speaker’s emotions, feelings, moods, convictions, sincerity, and so on. The supra segmental system may also give message-bound meanings, as example, “oops” as meaning an accident has happened.
Intonation is used by the teachers to frame the end and beginning of activities and topics. That is, a slowing of rate and falling intonation marks the end of an exchange, and a switch to rapid rate and louder speech marks the beginning of the next one. Intonation may also help learners decide how to process the meanings of words.
            The meaning of speech acts, too, is linked to intonation. Intonation tells us about the pragmatic meaning of an utterance.  Sarcasm and irony are signaled not by the words of the utterance but by the special intonation used in saying the words. To use Crystal’s (1969) example, the utterance “This is the third time he’s been to see me this week” may be a complaint, an announcement, a doubt, a suspicion and so on. The pragmatic meaning comes from the intonation used with the utterance.
In speech events, special intonation is used for pragmatic function. Rhetorical organization showed how special intonation, pitch, and stress are used as evaluative devices. They are used to involve the audience in our personal stories. Prosody is an important part of oral argument, whether it is a debate or personal argument. Hortatory text-religious moral, and political urgings – requires great skills in control of prosodic features. In contextual analysis, it is also clear that prosody interacts with message content to determine meaning. In English, the stress pattern follows the discourse organizations of sentences: New information is located at the ends of sentences and the highest pitch and stress point is located near the end of the utterance-usually on the last content word.
In most respects, the place of prosody and its relation to discourse has been largely ignored in second language acquisition and teaching. In the literature on first language acquisition, however, the development of intonation and of prosody for discourse functions has been an important issue. Communication Theory
Goffman (1976) claimed in his study of human communication that there is a set of universal constraints on all communication. Since the constraints are universal, they should appear in all types of communication and all in languages. Each language, of course, would differ in exactly how the constraints are met, and the ways in which the constraints are met should vary according to the communication channel.
Goffman divided these communication constraints into two parts, they are-
a)      system constraints
b)      ritual constraints
System constraints: it refers to the components required for all communication systems.
Ritual constraints: it refers to the social constraints that smooth social interaction.

System constraints
There are eight system constraints that Goffman claimed to be universal in all human communication. They are:
a)      channel open and close signals
b)      back channel signals
c)      turnover signals
d)     acoustically adequate and interpretable messages
e)      bracket signals
f)       nonparticipant constraints
g)      preempt signals
h)      a set of Gricean norms

Channel open and close signals:
In all communication, there must be ways to show that communication is about to begin and then begins, and ways to show that it is about to end and then ends. These channel open/close signals will differ according to the channel (e.g., phone calls, letters, meetings, classrooms). The description of these signals and how they vary across mode, channel and setting is part of the analysis of discourse.
Example: For a phone conversation, the opening may be like this-
Marcia: Hello.
Tony: Hi, Marcia.
Marcia: yeah?
Tony: This is Tony
Marcia: Hi, Tony.
Tony: How are you?
Marcia: Ohhhh I’ve got a paper due tomorrow.
Tony: How about that...

The closing of the conversation may be like this:
M: Okay. So:
T: Yeah.
M: Yeah. So I’ll call you tomorrow then.
T: Okay, talk to you later.
M: bye.
T: bye.

Back channel signals:
Gloffman’s second system constraint is that there have to be signals that a message is getting through. Eye contract, head nods, smiles and body alignment all help to tell us whether or not the recipient has answered our summons and is attending to our message.
During conversations, even when it is not our turn at talk, we may nod or make noises like “umhmm”, “uhhhh”, “yeah”, “very right,”-backchannel feedback that encourages the speaker to continue. These signals do not take the turn away from the speaker. For example:
L: Here’s the little girl.
E: uhhuh
L: She was walking with flowers in the grass
E: mmhmmm
L: And then she saw the ice cream and she told a lady can she have some.
E: yeah
In this example the listener gives signals that show the message is being received and the listener is aligned with the speaker in terms of that message.

Turnover Signals
In communication, there must be a set of signals that allow for a smooth exchange of turns. Sometimes these signals are ritualized, as in the “rozer” amd “over” signals of airline communication. In face to face communication, it would be a bit strange to say “over” or “go ahead” each time. So the speakers have the variety of signals to project the end of a turn. The signals cue the next speaker to begin a turn. Slowing of tempo, vowel elongation and falling intonation all help to signal the end of a turn, a place for an exchange in turns. This is sometimes called a transition-relevant place. Although turns are usually nicely timed, overlaps do happen. In fact, overlaps are thought to show alignment between the communication partners. In conversations, the length of the each turn is usually fairly short.

Acoustically adequate and interpretable messages
The forth constraint identified by Goffman is that communication requires an ungarbled message. In order for communication to take place, messages have to be interpretable. They also have to be hearable.

Bracket Signals
In all communication, there must be signals to show that part of the message, “side sequence”, are not right on-line with the message of the moment, Goffman calls the bracket signals. The brackets are like instructions for putting the ongoing talk or text on hold so that we can return to it later if we wish. There are many different signals- both verbal and nonverbal that can be used as bracket signals.

Nonparticipant Constraints
For successful communication, Goffman proposed a seventh system constraint which says that all languages must have some way of blocking nonparticipant noise from the communication channel. There are varieties of strategies that can be used to keep the noise of nonparticipants in the background and out of focus.

Preempt Signals
In addition to nonparticipant constraints, there also have to be ways for participants to interrupt each other. There need to be ways to do this for participants to interrupt an ongoing channel message. Emergencies come up when speaker must interrupt each other. There need to be ways to do it. In this case, preempt signals are used.
There are times when we need to preempt the talk in order to request repair or message clarification.
Student: and that’s in my book and th / / en
Teacher: E-e-e- what units are you going to put that in? This is the main thing I’m worried about.
Here, overlap occurs and the signal “E-e-e” is used by the teacher to interrupt and redirect the student’s plan of operation.

Gricean Norms for Communication:
Goffman also noted that communication cannot truly work unless participants generally observe four major norms of cooperation: relevance, truthfulness, quantity and clarity. These norms are called maxims, were proposed by Grice (1975) as criteria for cooperative communication.

Ritual Constraints
Ritual constraints refer to the social constraints that smooth social interaction. According to Goffman (1955, 1967, 1969, 1972, 1974), we want to show ourselves as worthwhile and competent and we also want to show that we value our interactors as people of social accomplishment. We do not always succeed or perform as smoothly as we’d like, even when we communicate with another native speaker. We also know that misunderstandings occur even though we may be proficient speakers of the language.
There are eight ritual constraints that Goffman claimed to be universal in all human communication. They are:
a)      ritual constraints in openings / closings
b)      ritual constraints and back channel signals
c)      ritual constraints and turnover signals
d)     ritual constraints and acoustically adequate and interpretable messages
e)      ritual constraints and bracket signals
f)       ritual constraints and nonparticipant signals
g)      ritual constraints and pre-empt signals
h)      ritual constraints and Grice’s maxims

Ritual Constraints in Openings / Closings
In all culture, greetings are given and returned. If the greeting is not returned, something has gone wrong in the social interaction. Even if the greeting is returned, the opening must be appropriate length so that both parties are given due recognition. In some cultures, Americans are often seen as rude and uncaring because their opening greetings are fairly short. Closing also differs across languages and cultures. In some languages, every person in the group must be spoken to in the closing. In other social groups, one can take leave with mainly nonverbal signals. If our openings and closing are too abrupt, we may be thought rude or angry as though we did not wish to enter into communication and rushed to get out it. If our openings and closing are too extended, we may be thought of as fawning, long-winded or boring. 

Ritual Constraints and Back Channel Signals
When we begin a conversation, we expect that other wish to converse with us and will value what we have to say. In part, we judge this willingness in terms of back-channel signals. Backchannel signals differ across cultures. In classroom lectures, students usually nod and smile to indicate that they are listening. Frowns and lack of eye contact may be signals to lecturers that the materials are not clear and needs to be revised or that that the material is already known and the lecture is therefore boring.

Ritual Constraints and Turnover Signals
In communication, we expect to receive our fair share of turns at talk. What is “fair” differs across culture. Power among the participants is often reflected not just by length of turn but also by who introduces topic switches at the beginning of turn. If status differences are heavily coded in language behavior, turns, turn length, and topic shifts may differ according to gender, role and social status.
The gaps or small silences between turns at talk also differ across language and culture groups. In Scandinavian languages, gaps between the turns are relatively long.

Ritual Constraints and Acoustically Adequate and Interpretable Messages
While all communication operates under the system constraints of acoustically adequate and interpretable messages, there is a good deal of leeway as to what constitutes an adequate message. Social consequences are obvious when messages are either too acoustically adequate or acoustically inadequate. For example, in ordinary conversation, friends use a relaxed register of speech where careful enunciation is not demanded. In fact, if they enunciate each word clearly, or if they are unable to match the general articulation patterns of those around them, there are sure to be social consequences.

Ritual Constraints and Bracket Signals
Bracket signals differ across language groups and the appropriateness of allowing asides or side sequences also differs. In academic discourse, for example, some language groups allow for what might be called a very ornate style, where personal comments, anecdotes and illustrative side sequences are valued. In other language groups, no such diversion is allowed. Footnotes or notes may be allowed, but side sequences and markers that provide ways of tracing back to the original thesis are not allowed.

Ritual Constraints and Nonparticipant Signals
Most of us do not feel comfortable attending a party where we know practically no one. We stand around hoping that someone will approach and engage us in conversation rather than try to join a group that is already conversing. Though we may know the conventional signals for joining the group, we may not be sure our entry into the group will be seen as valuable. When our host draws us into a group, introduces us and tells us something about the others, he or she is trying to build a bridge by establishing that we do indeed belong to the group and that each member of the group has something of worth to contribute.

Ritual Constraints and Preempt Signals
When we give a preempt signal, we expect those already engaged in a conversation will judge that we have a right to interrupt the conversation- that will not be seen as rude. Again, what counts as an acceptable interruption differs across language and culture groups,
Ritual Constraints and Grice’s maxims
 We expect that listeners will judge our talk not only as relevant but also as a valuable contribution to the theme of the conversation. We also expect that contributions to a conversation be truthful- the speaker says that what he or she says or believe to be true. The maxim of quantity differs greatly among language and social groups. There also social consequences linked to the notion of clarity.

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