Elasticity of vague language
MetadataShow full item record
This study develops an overarching theoretical framework of the strategic elasticity of vague language (e.g., “I probably have some books on the topic”), which has been lacking in the literature. The metaphor of a slingshot used in this study describes the stretching of vague language (VL) to target the needs of communication. Drawing attention to the positive and effective role of VL, this qualitative study investigates how the VL theory is manifested, explained through the real-life data of tension-prone encounters between Australian Customs officers and passengers. The empirical evidence validates the working of the main maxim (stretch language elastically in discursive negotiations) and the four specific VL maxims (go just-right, go general, go hypothetical and go subjective). There are three major findings: (1) interconnection between pragmatic functions, their linguistic realizations and pragmatic maxims conformed; (2) the dominant factor is the communicative goal; and (3) stretching on a continuum of polarities, between soft or tough, firm or flexible, cooperative or uncooperative, shows the versatility and elasticity of VL. An important implication of this study is that while vagueness is context-governed and culture-dependent, it is universal in terms of its all-round elasticity.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Investigating the use of vague language as a communicative strategy in Chinese business negotiationsZhao, Xiaohua (2010)Chinese has long been perceived as being a hánxù (‘inscrutable’) language with indirect ways of communicating. This study aims to investigate indirectness in Chinese communication by exploring the use of vague language ...
Zhao, Xiaohua; Zhang, Grace (2012)How and why is vague language ( e.g. ‘many' , 'a bit') used? We explore these questions by investigating the use of vague language as a communicative strategy in Chinese business negotiations. Three elements set this study ...
Zhang, Grace; Feng, H. (2013)Vagueness is an important part of language, whose research has been increasingly steadily. However, the impact of touchy conversational topics on the use of vague language has been largely overlooked. Based on the analysis ...