Monday, March 8, 2010

Discussing pragmatics now are we?

Hi everyone!

I just had my first official discussion meeting with a grad school classmate, and I think things went really well. We discussed a variety of topics including the dummy operator verb ‘do’, which Leech (2006) explains as follows:

"[T]he verb do, used as an auxiliary, is often called the dummy operator because it has no meaning of its own but exists simply to fill the 'slot' of operator when an operator is needed to form (for example) negative or interrogative sentences. In a similar way, it can be called a dummy subject when it fills the subject slot in sentences like: It's a pity that they wasted so much time."

We also did an analysis of a small dialogue based on the properties of everyday language as stated in Peter Grundy’s book Doing Pragmatics (2008). For those of you who are unfamiliar with these properties, there are nine in total:

1. Appropriateness
-Use of the most appropriate language for the given context
2. Non-literal or indirect meaning
3. Inference
4. Indeterminacy
-Ambiguous or unclear utterances, which leads the addressee to infer its meaning
5. Context
6. Relevance
-Understanding an utterance by choosing its most relevant meaning for the context in which it was uttered
7. Accommodation
-Background information, often cultural
8. Reflexivity
-Advice, or information a speaker provides to facilitate the understanding of his or her utterance
9. Misfires

And here is the dialogue we used for the analysis:

A: Are you an exchange student?
B: No, I'm a teacher here.
A: Oh. Where are you from?
B: I'm from Canada.
A: Nice.

Although we have already discussed our own analyses, if you are interested in pragmatics, or if you happen to be studying it as well, just go ahead and leave a comment and tell me, “How would you analyze this dialogue?”



Leech, Geoffrey N. (2006) A Glossary of English Grammar (Edinburgh University Press).
Grundy, Peter (2008) Doing Pragmatics (Hodder Education)

PS. Although I used Leech’s book as a reference, I actually found the quote for the dummy operator verb here on, but was unsure as to how to make such a reference, so went with the original source. If anyone knows how to make such a reference, or if anyone knows of a resource for explaining such references, please let me know and I can make the changes.

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