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A Pragmatic Analysis on Vagueness of American Presidents’Remarks in Press Conferences

Author: LiLiang
Tutor: HuangBinLan
School: Guangxi University
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: Press Conference Pragmatic Analysis Coperative Principle Politeness Principle
CLC: H313
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2012
Downloads: 271
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Abstract


Vagueness prevails in the utterances of human communications. Recently, much progress has been made in the area of vagueness study by many scholars at home and abroad from the perspectives of stylistics, rhetoric, systemic functional linguistics, translation and etc.U.S.A., a super power, has many great political and economical influences on the world, and as leaders of this superpower, the American Presidents are usually adept in public speaking and prefer to hold press conferences to convey the political and economic information as well as its ideological messages to the domestic society and the outside world. Press conference is an effective way of social communication, and the language used by the spokesperson in press conference is required to be accurate and concise. Therefore, the spokesperson ought to give relevant and unambiguous answers. But it is very common to see that vagueness is used by the spokesperson. And the relevant pragmatic studies of vagueness used in American Presidents’remarks in press conferences are rare, especially within the theoretical framework of Cooperative Principle and Politeness Principle.The remarks of nine press conferences in this study are collected randomly from the press conferences held by the three American Presidents during their terms of office in the early21st century. Based on the CP and PP theories, this study adopts the qualitative analysis as the major method and quantitative analysis as a supplement. And the descriptive method is also applied in the present study to analyze the vagueness applied in the American Presidents’ remarks in Press Conference Language from the perspective of pragmatics. Hence this study aims to discuss the following questions:1. What is the frequency of vagueness used in the American Presidents’ remarks in press conferences?2. With the employment of vagueness, how do American Presidents achieve their conversational intentions by the observance or violation of CP and PP? And what are the major ways?3. What are the communicative functions of vagueness in PCL? Evidences from this study show that different kinds of vagueness prevail in American Presidents’remarks in press conferences. Semantic vagueness, which includes hedges, non-numerical vague quantifiers, comparatives and superlatives, takes up the larger proportion than other kinds of vagueness and aims to convey authoritative information accurately and effectively, so as to achieve the political goals they have and serve the fundamental interests of the country the spokespersons present. Within the rational theoretical framework of Cooperative Principle and the Politeness Principle, this study explores how American Presidents violate maxims of CP to generate conversational implicature in the context of press conferences; and uses Leech’s maxims of PP to clarify how American Presidents save faces and show politeness to achieve their political and diplomatic goals when they are facing sensitive issues and conflicts. It is found that the employment of vagueness has some important communicative functions in PCL including:providing an appropriate amount of information, withholding information intentionally, self-protecting and achieving politeness.Based on the in-depth analysis of the vagueness in American Presidents’remarks in press conferences, the study provides a new perspective to analyze the linguistic features and inherent rules of its usage and gives practical examples to governors and diplomatic personnel for better understanding of vagueness in press conference language which might helps them work better in press conferences. Besides, results of this study shed some lights for interpreters to better understand the usages of vagueness and work smoothly in press conferences and have some implications to the language researchers and learners to have future studies on vagueness.The thesis is composed of five chapters. Chapter One is a brief introduction of the whole study, including the research background, research questions, research methods, research purpose and the significance of the study as well as the organization of the thesis. Chapter Two is a literature review of previous studies at home and abroad. Chapter Three forms the theoretical framework. Chapter Four is the body part of the thesis. It presents a quantitative analysis of the data which vagueness is employed from the perspective of CP and PP and then discusses the communicative functions of vagueness in PCL. Chapter Five brings the research to a conclusion in which a summarizing overview and some suggestions for future research are provided.

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