A Pragmatics Perspective

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Rebekah Johnson


In this conversation, a husband and wife discuss upcoming vacation plans (see Appendix A for the full transcript). It seems that the wife is guiding much of the conversation through attentiongetting phrases and by explicitly stating what she hopes the talk will accomplish. The husband, on the other hand, answers the wife and, at times, tries to add his opinion but is not able to get it out because the wife is talking over him or continues talking. Of the three excerpts we are focusing on (see Appendix B), the husband talks most in excerpt B, calculating expenses. There are instances of implicature (Grice, 1975), where one spouse understands unstated or implied meanings, and cases where one or both spouses are attending to negative or positive face needs (Brown & Levinson, 1987).

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