Grice's maxims and the principle of selectiveness: an advertising language perspective
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The ability of being selective, i.e. saying the right thing at the right time and place, is essential for successful interaction. This article examines the dynamic process of expression and comprehension in language interactions and deals with two issues. The first is that if selectiveness is common and indispensable in language use it should be accepted as an appropriate communication device. The other issue is how the selectiveness principle fits in with Grice's (1975, 1989) four conversational maxims. This study will be conducted primarily in the context of real estate advertising language, by analysing how real estate agents use selectiveness to convey their intended information and hearers work out the inferential meaning based on their common knowledge and contextual cues.Over the past three decades, there have been continuous debates on Grice's maxims. This study will propose the inclusion of the selectiveness principle into Grice's maxims. The proposal is based on an analysis of advertising language which will show that language users tend to be selective while still managing to fit in with Grice's framework. Being selective is not an ad hoc characteristic of advertising language; it is a pervasive, legitimate, tactful and effective communicative device used in everyday language. Following the selectiveness principle is a matter of following one's common sense. This research will argue that while selectiveness doesn't violate Grice's maxims, it is different in that it is used to achieve appropriateness in terms of cultural and social norms. Differences are drawn between inferential meaning and Grice's conversational implicature to justify the proposed modification of Grice's maxims with the addition of the selectiveness principle.
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