The Interpretation of Indirect Utterances

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The Interpretation of Indirect Utterances

* Types of Indirectness

- This study asserts the importance of communicative competence in learning. It discusses one aspect of communicative competence : the interpretation of indirect utterances .

- Two types of indirectness are addressed here in this study :

1- Pragmatic Ambivalence .

2- Implicature .

1- Pragmatic Ambivalence

- Pragmatic Ambivalence, as Thomas ( 1995 ) argues, occurs when the intended force of an utterance, such as " Is that the phone ? ", is quite indeterminate. This is by virtue of the fact that it can be either a straightforward question or a request to the hearer to answer the phone. Thus, Pragmatic Ambivalence is used when the speaker does not " make clear precisely which range of related illocutionary values is intended. " For example an utterance like " It is cold in here ", can be used as a constative ( report about the temperature in the room ), a request to turn on the heating system, or an excuse to leave the room .

- Thomas ( 1988 ) distinguishes between ambiguity and ambivalence. Ambiguity is a semantic grammatical term. It is the case that one meaning is intended by the speaker. With Ambivalence, which operates at a pragmatic level, both speaker and addresser understand that more than one interpretation is possible. Coates' notion of Indetermincy refers to the same phenomenon .

2- Implicature

- Yule ( 1996 ) defines Implicature as an " additional conveyed meaning ". Implicatures are thus " examples of more being communicated than is said ". Green ( 1989 ) argues that " much of the value of implicature in conversation lies in its indirectness, in the fact that it allows the speaker to avoid saying exactly what she means to convey ".