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dc.contributor.authorZhang, Grace
dc.identifier.citationZhang, Grace. 2011. Elasticity of vague language. Intercultural Pragmatics. 8 (4): pp. 571-599.

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.

dc.publisherWalter de Gruyter
dc.titleElasticity of vague language
dc.typeJournal Article
dcterms.source.titleIntercultural Pragmatics
curtin.departmentSchool of Social Sciences and Asian Languages
curtin.accessStatusFulltext not available

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