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Title: 'Coffee is not coffee at twelve o'clock at night' : exploring the motivations for speaking indirectly
Author: Soltys, Jessica Meryl
ISNI:       0000 0004 7968 3501
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis presents a detailed theoretical and empirical discussion of indirect speech acts with a focus on off-record indirectness (ORI), a linguistic strategy through which a speaker deliberately conveys to the addressee two related meanings - a literal, direct meaning and an indirect meaning. Due to the pragmatic ambiguity of the ORI utterance, the indirect meaning can be plausibly denied in favour of a literal interpretation, if necessary. This thesis focuses on strategic uses of ORI - instances in which a speaker intentionally uses an ambiguous off-record utterance. Several theoretical accounts have been proposed to explain strategic uses of off-record indirectness, each of which attributes different motivations to ORI and assumes different functional, contextual, or interpersonal conditions under which ORI is optimal. This thesis explores strategic motivations for ORI by closely examining a number of compelling and, at times, competing theoretical accounts. In Chapter 2, several accounts of ORI are summarised, contextualised, and scrutinised and a novel theoretical categorisation is proposed. Chapters 3 through 7 focus on three theories of ORI - Politeness Theory (PT), the Strategic Speaker approach (SS), and the Intimacy accounts. Theoretical predictions associated with each of these theories are tested empirically through a series of experiments that explore the use of ORI amongst native English speakers. The experiments use a range of methodologies, including production-based activities and judgement tasks, and focus on several facets of ORI use, with the aim of providing a broad, empirically-based account of ORI. Key empirical findings include a discrepancy between the participants' intuitions about the role of politeness in the use of ORI and their production of ORI in experimental conditions; the widespread use of ORI in some SS scenarios and near absence in others; the addition of politeness markers to SS ORI utterances; and the dispreference for Intimacy-based uses of ORI. In Chapter 8, the experiments are reviewed and analysed comparatively with an emphasis on theoretical implications. Trends and discrepancies are discussed, a 'moderate' SS is proposed to accommodate the use of politeness markers alongside ORI, the categorisation presented in Chapter 2 is updated, and future research directions are suggested.
Supervisor: Katsos, Napoleon Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: applied linguistics ; experimental pragmatics ; pragmatics ; politeness ; indirect speech ; implicature