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Biplob Prodhan
  • 5 months ago
  • 197
What is cooperative principle? Discuss with reference to Gricean maxims


What is cooperative principle? Discuss with reference to Gricean maxims. [‘13,‘16]

Ans. The success of a conversation depends on the various speaker’s approach to the interaction. When we engage in a conversation, we cooperate with the speaker or listener in order to make the conversation successful. The way in which people try to make conversations work, is sometimes called the cooperative principle.

The rules of cooperative conversation were first proposed by Paul Grice as the cooperative principle. The principle can be explained by four rules or maxims as follow:

  1. Maxims of QualitySpeakers should be truthful. They shouldn’t say what they think is false or make statements for which they have no evidence. For example, if someone asks “Who is the president of USA?”, reply should be “Donald Trump.” But, if one replies “Donald Trump, maybe”, it will be uncooperative reply.
  2. Maxim of QuantitySpeakers should make their contribution as informative as is required for the current purposes of the exchange. They should not make their contribution more informative than is required. For example, if one asks “What’s you name?”, reply should be “My name is X” or only “X”. But if one replies “My name is X. I live in Khulna. I am a student”, it will be uncooperative reply.
  3. Maxim of Relevance: Speakers’ contributions should relate clearly to the purpose of the exchange. For example, if one asks “What’s for supper?”, reply should be “Fish and meat”. But, if one replies “Tables, chairs, spoon etc”, it will be irrelevant.
  4. Maxim of MannerSpeakers’ contributions should be perspicuous – clear, orderly and brief, avoiding obscurity and ambiguity. For example, if one asks “What are you eating?”, reply should  be “Chocolate”. But, if one replies “C H O C O L A T E”, it will create ambiguity.

Indeed, these maxims specify what participants have to do in order to converse in a maximally efficient, rational, cooperative way. They should speak sincerely, relevantly and clearly while providing sufficient information.

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Biplob Prodhan
Biplob Prodhan Founder & Director EDNOUB Foundation Ednoub Private Program

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