Cooperative principle with reference to Gricean maxims / Grice's maxims

Gricean maxims,cooperative principle with reference to Gricean maxims
Cooperative principle,Grice's maxims


What is cooperative principle? Discuss with reference to the Gricean maxims.

(Short points: Cooperative principle, Four maxims, Quality, Quantity, Relevance, Manner)


The way in which people try to make conversation work is called the cooperative principle. It's the idea that conversation produces according to a principle. We can understand it by noting those people who are exceptions to the rule or aren't capable of making conversation.

Paul Grice notes that in general conversation, speakers and hearers share a cooperative principle. Speakers make their utterances to be understood by hearers. This principle can be explained by four maxims or rules are called conversational maxims or Grice's maxims or Gricean maxims. They are: 

1. Quality
2. Quantity
3. Relevance
4. Manner.
These four Gricean maxims are discussed bellow:

Speakers should say the truth. They shouldn't say false statements or something which has no evidence. For example, if someone is asked, "How old are you?". Answer can be " I'm 145 years old" or " I'm 20 years old". Here, second answer maintains quality.

- I'm 145 years old.
Qualified -  I'm 20 years old.

  A contribution should be informative as is required. It should be neither too little nor too long. If someone asks," How old are you?" .Answer can be:
    - I'm 1+1+1+1+1+1+3+1+4+2+1+3 years old.
Quantified - I'm 20 years old.

Here, second answer is not too long nor too short. So, it's perfect.

Speakers' contributions should be relevant to time, place, topic etc. Again, if it's asked, How old are you?". The answer should be relevant to the matter.

         - I like apple.
Relevant - I'm 20 years only.

In this place, "I like apple" is not relevant to the question. But, second answer is relevant to the question.

Speakers contribution should be perspicuous, clear, brief. It should avoid obscurity and ambiguity. We may understand it by the same example," How old  are you?"
Answer can be:

           -Am I 20 years old or 240 months old, anyway.
Mannered - I'm 20 years old.

The first answer is not clear and obscured. But, when we judge the second answer, it's brief and perspicuous.

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