Conversational Rules

Implicature is when you suggest an idea by what you say, but your words don’t have to be taken that way. And, well, I guess there’s a whole field of linguistics where people structure how we talk with one another into ordered rules. For example, Gricean maxims deal with assumptions about your conversational partner: that their contributions are relevant, clear, true, and that they aren’t too long-winded in responses. However, the rules still work when we choose to break (flout) them:

Speakers who deliberately flout the maxims usually intend for their listener to understand their underlying implication. In the case of the clumsy friend, she will most likely understand that the speaker is truly not offering a compliment. Therefore, cooperation is still taking place, but no longer on the literal level. Conversationalists can assume that when speakers intentionally flout a maxim, they still do so with the aim of expressing some thought. Thus, the Gricean Maxims serve a purpose both when they are followed and when they are flouted.

Brief Notes Nearby