Clyne’s Revision of Grice’s Maxims Essay

Grice’s Maxims have been criticised for being excessively Anglo-centric. Michael Clyne proposes alterations to the four axioms in his 1994 book Intercultural Communication at Work. Make Clyne’s alterations of this theoretical account go far plenty in universally accounting for intercultural conversation? Why or why non?

Grice’s General Cooperative Principle has been under uninterrupted argument for the past three decennaries. It is chiefly through the axioms that Grice’s paradigm has been challenged as extremely ethnocentric. nevertheless such readings may be given to take the axioms excessively literally instead than as “reference points for linguistic communication interchange” ( Allan as cited in Clyne. 1994. p. 11 ) . There is some understanding in this. but as suggested by Mey ( 1994. p. 74 ) . the rule and axioms are “always defined comparative to a peculiar culture” . It is this thought of cultural values underlying communicating that has caused the contention of Grice’s concerted rule and its subsidiary axioms. Many linguists ( Keenan. 1976 ; Wierzbicka. 1985 ; Clyne. 1994 ; Bowe & A ; Martin. 2007 ) have criticised Grice’s Maxims for being excessively ethnocentric – claiming that its premises are based on Anglo-Saxon norms and civilization.

This Anglo-centric nature is debatable for intercultural communicating as the axioms are unsuitable to many cultural values systems ; viz. European and Southeasterly Asiatic civilizations where harmoniousness. regard and restraint play a cardinal function ( Clyne. 1994. p. 192 ) . In an effort to better reflect intercultural conversation. Clyne ( 1994 ) has proposed a set of revised ‘maxims’ to do Grice’s rules more cosmopolitan. His alteration of Grice’s theoretical account surely accounts for a wider assortment of contexts and civilizations. nevertheless it can non be said to universally account for intercultural conversation. As conversation is alone to its context and participants. in world no individual theory could universally incarnate existent life linguistic communication usage. Although people of all backgrounds by and large do try to ease successful communicating ( if it doesn’t struggle with their intent or cultural values ) . factors alone to each participant can impact any given conversation. Therefore. it can be said that while persons are conditioned by their civilization and environment. discourse forms will ever be influenced by personality factors ( Watts. 1991 ) and matter-of-fact and intercultural competency.

On the surface. Grice’s concerted rule seems to supply small trouble for intercultural analysis ; its grade of uncertainness is surely appropriate for treatments of cultural diverseness. Making a part “such as is required. at the phase at which it occurs. by the recognized intent or way of the talk exchange in which you are engaged” ( Grice. 1975. p. 45 ) seems to let for the credence of different intents and demands in different contexts. and does non except the influence of norms associated with a assortment of different address communities. Although intercultural analysis was non Grice’s chief concern. he has defined the discourse of his concerted rule as “concerted enterprises” that allow “a high grade of diverseness in the motives underlying rather meager common objectives” ( 1989: 369 ) . Grice himself makes no expressed claims of catholicity. utilizing characteristically modest linguistic communication to mention to a “first estimate of a general principle” ( 1989: 26 ) .

He is highly careful non to exaggerate the instance for ‘cooperation’ ; proposing that “each participant recognizes in them ( speak exchanges ) . to some extent. a common intent. or at least a reciprocally accepted direction” ( 1989. p. 26 ) . It should be pointed out nevertheless. that Grice’s maxims depict an idealized and simplified linguistic communication usage. whereas world is much more complex and multi-dimensional. In mundane conversations. stating the full truth might be seen as impolite or inappropriate in certain civilizations. There besides tend to be intercultural differences that do non ever follow a cosmopolitan rule. Some civilizations and linguistic communications ( i. e. Chinese ) frequently dictate that their talkers use indirect address in conversation. which means they are unable to follow Grice’s axioms of measure and mode.

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In such instances. there is a clang between Grice’s axioms and the matter-of-fact regulations of conversation. which are culturally sensitive. For illustration. when being offered a drink. a typical Chinese individual would automatically state no the first clip. while anticipating the offer to be made at least two or three times more. This resembles a sort of phatic linguistic communication communicating ; stating no. but non truly intending no. In this kind of state of affairs. if person doesn’t adhere to the cultural norm – taking to follow Grice’s axioms alternatively. so they would sound odd and out of topographic point.

The above illustration demonstrates that Grice’s maxims aren’t relevant in all contexts as they clash with certain cultural values systems. Many linguists ( Clyne. 1994 ; Hymes. 1986 ; Loveday. 1983 ; Walsh. 2009 ) have picked up on this disagreement between theory and informations. claiming that the axioms are merely relevant to the English speech production Western universe. In peculiar. Clyne ( 1994 ) has pointed out that they have limited relevancy to civilizations where content and cognition are nucleus values. For illustration. talkers of Malagasy. “whose signifier of co-operation seems to dwell in doing their parts as opaque. convoluted and non-perspicuous as possible” ( Keenan as cited in Mey. 1994. p. 74 ) could be seen as scoffing the Maxim of Quantity.

This is because information. particularly ‘new’ information gives the holder a certain sum of prestigiousness. therefore Malagasy people tend to utilize indirect. evasive linguistic communication. It is obvious so. that environmental factors. societal interaction and cultural norms need to be considered when construing colloquial implicature. This is reinforced by Hymes ( 1986 ) . who notes that Grice was right in presuming that any civilization will hold some kind of orientation towards stating the truth ( quality ) . being enlightening ( measure ) . remaining on subject ( relation ) . and being clear ( mode ) . but that this orientation and how it is articulated can non be assumed to be the same in all civilizations. It is necessary so to acknowledge that each linguistic communication and/or civilization will hold its ain scenes for each of the axioms ( Bowe & A ; Martin. 2007 ) .

In an effort to cut down the cultural prejudice of Grice’s axioms. Clyne ( 1994 ) has proposed alterations to the four axioms ( measure. quality. relation. mode ) by sing different cultural norms and outlooks. An illustration of this is the alteration of the axiom of quality so that it reads ‘do non state what you believe to be in resistance to your cultural norms of truth. harmoniousness. charity. and/or regard. ’ This alteration accounts for state of affairss in which the listener may non desire to react truthfully in order to continue face or harmoniousness ( Lakoff. 1973 ) . This cultural value of harmoniousness is particularly prevailing in Chinese and Vietnamese civilizations. Nguyen ( 1991 ) claims that communalism and Bolshevism has enforced harmoniousness as a cardinal cultural value in the Vietnamese people. Because of this accent on harmonious dealingss. Vietnamese often utilise equivocal communicating behaviors in order to avoid struggle. Although this linguistic communication usage could scoff one or more of Grice’s axioms. by presenting cultural parametric quantities such as truth. harmoniousness and face. Clyne’s ( 1994 ) alterations can break history for intercultural conversation.

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Clyne’s ( 1994 ) revised axioms for intercultural analysis surely have more respect for the communicative forms of non-English civilizations ; nevertheless. they don’t wholly run into the demands of intercultural communicating. In intercultural communicating a high degree of matter-of-fact competency is cardinal to an middlemans public presentation. As Thomas ( 1984 ) points out. it is normally the differences in matter-of-fact competency that are debatable in intercultural conversation. Furthermore. it is possible to hold achieved a really high degree of lingual proficiency. while holding a comparatively low degree of socio-pragmatic proficiency. This can ensue in talkers utilizing a linguistic communication. which for some ground is deemed inappropriate. inexplicable or even violative ( Thomas. 1984 ) . This will be demonstrated by the undermentioned illustration:

An Australian director has been reassigned to the Athens office of his organisation and is assigned a Grecian secretary. On a day-to-day footing. he assigns work to her by utilizing conventional indirect petitions such as ‘Could you type this missive? ’ One twenty-four hours. she complains to a co-worker. ‘I want he would merely state me what to make alternatively of inquiring me. After all. he’s the foreman and I’m here to make what he wants. ’

In the above illustration. we have a mixture of premises about the rights and duties of two parties in a relationship characterized by asymmetrical distribution of power. and the manner this power will be exercised and acknowledged. The Australian foreman attends to the face wants of his secretary by trying to minimise the power distance between the two. This is done by the usage of niceness schemes that apparently give the subsidiary the option non to execute a requested act – ‘Could you type this missive? ’ Thomas ( 1995. p. 161 ) observes that ‘allowing options ( or giving the visual aspect of leting options ) is perfectly cardinal to Western impressions of politeness’ .

An Australian secretary would presumptively cognize that a direct. on-record refusal of this petition would be face endangering to her foreman – every bit good as endangering to her ain occupation. She could potentially use indirect refusal schemes ( i. e. intimations ) . which would avoid on record refusal and prolong the visual aspect of harmoniousness. As Green ( cited in Thomas. 1995. p. 147 ) points out “the talker is truly merely traveling through the gestures of offering options or demoing regard for the addressee’s feelings. The offer may be a frontage. the options nonviable. and the regard a fake. It is the fact that an attempt was made to travel through the gestures at all that makes the act an act of niceness. “

It is clear that in this illustration the two parties have non yet negotiated a shared set of norms. The secretary acknowledges and accepts the power difference between herself and her foreman. She is dependent on him for work. and she accepts that he has the right to state her to transport out assorted secretarial responsibilities. To her. the Australian foreman seems insincere when he requests her to make something for him. because every bit far as she is concerned. the power relationship admits no options. That is ; she does non construe the respect that her foreman shows towards her as an act of niceness. There are evidently socio-pragmatic differences between the two parties. The Australian foreman has carried his socio-pragmatic norms into the Grecian scene. where they violate the outlooks of his Grecian subsidiary. Each party is specifying and moving within the state of affairs otherwise.

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Despite this. their brushs are non wholly unsuccessful: the foreman makes petitions for work that the secretary completes. However. the Grecian secretary feels dissatisfied with her boss’s niceness schemes. It can be said that neither party is wholly interculturally competent. That is ; pass oning in a culturally competent manner requires middlemans to larn about the ways civilization influences communicative vocalizations of persons concerned. After all. if the secretary invariably doubts the earnestness of her foreman. the relationship is threatened. And if the foreman is incognizant of the effects of this. he may see a rude rousing in the close hereafter.

Based on what has been discussed. it can be concluded that Grice’s axioms can non be taken as absolute regulations ; this would be neither right nor operable. Language is non every bit distinct as mathematical expression ; it often integrates with civilization and society. Therefore cultural and matter-of-fact considerations are critical to successful intercultural communicating. Furthermore. lingual competence may non ever do a dislocation in communicating ; really frequently when linguistic communication signifier and cultural norm clang. civilization supersedes linguistic communication signifier. Clyne’s ( 1994 ) alterations of the colloquial axioms better reflect cultural fluctuation. nevertheless they do non universally account for intercultural communicating.

The illustrations aforementioned demonstrate that factors such as matter-of-fact and intercultural competency besides play a cardinal function. Intercultural communicating so becomes something that is negotiated at local degree by participants. affecting common version. Troubles may originate. of class. in the procedure of dialogue through restrictions in the socio-pragmatic and strategic competency of some or all participants. After all. there are single differences in these competences. and as Agar ( 1994 ) points out. we have to retrieve that in any intercultural conversation. ‘it’s individuals non civilizations that are in contact’ .


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