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Pragmatika seminrn prce

Daniela Kulkov, 1. ro NMgr AJ-PG

THE CO-OPERATIVE PRINCIPLE AND THE INTERPRETATION OF LITERATURE Elizabeth Black In her book Pragmatic Stylistics the author explores the application of the study of pragmatics on literary texts and claims, that The ways in which we interpret ordinary language use are relevant to the ways in which we interpret literary discourse which is only the language of the time, written by people who are more adept at manipulating its nuances than most of us (pg. 12).1 Among other linguists, she uses the works of Austin and Grice to support her claims in language interpretation. Also, the author mentions Pratt as the first to show the usefulness of pragmatic theories to the study of literary texts. On the other hand Black expects that literary discourse will differ from ordinary conversation and some written discourse since any published work is subject to a process of careful composition and revision. To prove this, Black uses extracts of works of renowned writers, such as Austen, Hemingway, Joyce, Rowling, Woolf and others or she relies on the readers knowledge of the pieces as such to underline her point. In the chapter on the Co-operative Principle Black first introduces Grices theory of maxims and cases of violations when the Co-operative principle is not observed and explains Conversational Implicature with the use of Spark and Wodehouse. Further, the author deliberately drifts from interpreting the character-to-character interactions and proceeds to discuss the interaction between narrator and reader as well as the relationship between narrator and
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Black, Elizabeth. Pragmatic Stylistics. ISBN 0 7486 2040 0, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd, 2006.

Pragmatika seminrn prce

Daniela Kulkov, 1. ro NMgr AJ-PG

characters and poses the question whether Grices interpretation of literary discourse can usefully guide our reading, since what he suggests is that via the implicatures, we can arrive at interpretation and mentions, that Finnegans Wake, for example, is indeed unco-operative throughout and concludes, that Grices maxims, in relation to literary work, suggest interpretative procedures. Further, the author mentions, Brown and Yules thesis that spoken language is used for interpersonal communication, while the written is predominantly transactional and arrives at the conclusion that fictional discourse bridges these two functions: one might suggest a higher degree of transactional elements in much of the narrative commentary, while conversations between characters are (to varying degrees) mimetic of the spoken language (pg. 27).2 There are other interesting points Black mentions, such as the narrators play on maxims, which render the narrator as unreliable, such as Marlow in Conrads Heart of Darkness. And other case violation, for instance clashes between the writer of detective stories who knows the villain, yet conceals it from the reader. Finally, Black addresses the maxim of quantity as a central point to the narrative, questioning the appropriate amount of information required in a fiction. To conclude, Blacks explanation of the Co-operative Principle as well as the background information and examples are clear and well structured. She uses academic, yet clear and understandable language that is well suitable for students as well as the general public. Her book presupposes general
Black, Elizabeth. Pragmatic Stylistics. ISBN 0 7486 2040 0, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd, 2006.
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Pragmatika seminrn prce

Daniela Kulkov, 1. ro NMgr AJ-PG

knowledge of English and American literature, ranging from classic to up to date prose and poetry. This approach gives a tangible illustration and is easy for the reader to picture.