Discuss some of the ways that participants in a conversation are sensitive to others needs
There are two theories in spoken language that explain how speech in conversations changes due different factors. Some of these factors include; professional status, regional background, and age. These theories are the accommodation theory and the co-operative principle.
The accommodation theory was developed by Howard Giles in the 1970’s. He had the theory we change our speech depending on the conversational needs of the person we are talking to. This either leads to divergence, people’s speech moving apart, or convergence, moving our speech closer to the other person’s style.
Furthermore, convergence has the effect of decreasing the social distance between speakers which ...view middle of the document...
Divergence has the effect of emphasising the differences between two people’s speech styles such as a teacher asserting their authority with a class of students.
The co-operative principle was created by H.P Grice in 1975. His theory was that a successful conversation occurs when participants abide by certain rules such as turn taking. He also stated that cooperation between speakers is the fundamental principal underlying conversation and that those taking part in a conversation have common communicative goals which makes conversations work.
Grice believes that there are four maxims that play a part in a conversation. These include; quantity which states you should say neither more nor less than necessary; relevance which states what you say must have relevance to the context of the conversation; manner which says ambiguity and obscurity should be avoided; and quality which says that you should be honest and avoid saying anything false.
Grice’s theory states you can either violate or flout these maxims. A violation of a maxim is where the maxim is not being followed which leads to conversational breakdown. For instance, a violation of relevance would be if someone says ‘What did you do at the weekend?’ and they reply ‘I’m going on holiday tomorrow!’ This is a violation as they are completely going off topic and it does not relate to the context of the conversation.
Flouting a maxim is where it seems like a violation but they are actually co-operating on a deeper level. Flouts create implicature; information is implied rather than stated. An example of flouting the quality maxim would be if someone asked ‘Did you steal the car?’ and they reply ‘I know who did’. This is a flout as they are not giving a definite answer, the information is said to be implied.