Grice’s conversational maxims

Grice’s conversational maxims

The British philosopher Herbert Paul Grice (1913-1988) helped give the language a pragmatic approach and proposed some principles that allow interpreting the sentences and regulating the communicative exchange.┬áThus, he pointed out the existence of general conversation maxims that direct all communication and can explain indirect styles and communication errors. In this article we will present you the Grice‘s conversational maxims.

These principles or maxims are included in what Grice called the principle of cooperation, by which we make our conversational contributions as required, at the stage in which this occurs, by the accepted proposition or direction of the exchange in which we are engaged.

Grice’s conversational maxims

1- Maximum amount: never give too much information, but not too little

It is not necessary to explain everything; On the contrary, the reader’s mind must also work. Of course, we cannot be too succinct either, because our receiver would be entertained in guessing instead of reading further.

2- Maximum quality: never say something that is false or that you cannot prove to be true

The reader wants to believe what you are telling, but he needs you to give him some security: he will distrust whether your story contains implausible or contradictory details.

3- Maximum relationship: make all your interventions relevant

In the first draft we all tend to ramble and give unnecessary data: nothing happens, you just have to avoid getting to the final work. To detect them, ask yourself this question: if you remove that paragraph, chapter, word, etc. In the text, would the whole look resentful? If the answer is “no,” you should remove it.

4- Maximum so: try to express yourself clearly, that is:

– Avoid being ambiguous : you are trying to communicate, so make yourself understood.

– Avoid expressing yourself in a dark way : if you are not familiar with a certain word or have written something that even you have trouble understanding in a first reading, look for another simpler formula: your readers will thank you.

– Be brief : if you can say something with two words, do not use three.

– Be orderly : organize ideas so that they flow without bankruptcy that can undo the illusion that the story is real.

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