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Pragmatic Analysis of Interpersonal Relationship in the Chinese Traditional Pattern of Difference Sequence

Author: LiYun
Tutor: PengJianWu
School: Shandong University of Science and Technology
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: the pattern of difference sequence interpersonal relationship pragmatic theories analysis
CLC: H030
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2008
Downloads: 69
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Pragmatics as a newly emerging discipline has developed increasingly. Its scope of study has been extended from fresh perspectives and at different levels, and there is a growing tendency for interdisciplinary studies. This thesis is an attempt to combine sociological notion with pragmatics and endeavors to explore features of interpersonal relationship in the Chinese traditional pattern of difference sequence by analyzing conversations in literary works.The pattern of difference sequence, as a sociological notion, is advanced by Fei Xiaotong in his book From the Soil: Foundations of Chinese Society (《乡土中国》). His brilliant exposition of Chinese social structure points out that China is a stratified hierarchical society in which people emphasize the ethic, stress the egoism and preserve individual benefit. Interpersonal relationship, a universal social phenomenon, is the foundation of survival and development of whole society and each individual in it. Interpersonal relationship existing in communication is various, complex, and influenced by many factors, such as culture, society, psychology, etc. Being constrained by the pattern of difference sequence, Chinese interpersonal relationship presents prominent features: submission to the authority and the superiority, strict hierarchical status as well as group and relation orientation. Based on a brief review on related studies, the thesis discovers the feasibility and necessity of applying pragmatic theories to the analysis of social phenomena. Grice’s Cooperative Principle (CP) and its four maxims and Sperber and Wilson’s ostensive-inferential communication are introduced. Gricean conversational implicature theory is a classic in pragmatic domain, which has aroused broad attentions since it comes into being. CP and its four maxims provide theoretical evidence for generation of conversational implicature and indicate appropriate orientation of the pragmatic study. Sperber and Wilson’s ostensive-inferential communication is the revision and development of Gricean theory. Comments on the two inferential models of communication show that it is feasible to employ ostensive-inferential communication when the explanatory power of CP and its four maxims is limited. Those pragmatic theories are illustrated to serve as the theoretical framework to facilitate the specific analysis.To some extent, literature is the miniature of real life, which is closely related to interpersonal relationship. Interpersonal relationship differs in intimacy/distance dimension. The difference between "close" and "distance" is taken seriously in Chinese culture. If close, people share mutual affinities and communicate enthusiastically; on the contrary, people have no interest in speeches, even dispute. Consequently, conversations reflecting interpersonal relationship inevitably in literature have abundant implied meaning. In this thesis, typical conversations are selected from A Dream of Red Mansions, Moment in Peking and Lapse of Time which present features of different historical times. All examples are classified in accordance with features of interpersonal relationship and analyzed comparatively by application of pragmatic theories. Characters in novels are prone to violate CP and its associated maxims, and they adopt proper conversational strategies to generate conversational implicature. The purposes of their behavior aim at obeying the superiority, befitting their position, observing moral codes and protecting their interests; however, in fact, the effects of their behavior reveal features of interpersonal relationship in the pattern of difference sequence.In brief, based on western pragmatics, interpersonal relationship in the Chinese traditional pattern of difference sequence is elaborated. This paper attempts to make a tentative analysis of social phenomena from an interdisciplinary perspective. In a way, the approach of combining western theories with Chinese literature tries to help people understand the Chinese culture from a comprehensive perspective. Moreover, the most important thing is to testify the universality of pragmatic principles. Furthermore, some proposals for further study are offered on applying pragmatic theories, selecting research topics and collecting data analyzed.

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CLC: > Language, writing > Linguistics > Semantics,pragmatics,lexicology, meaning school > Semantics, pragmatics
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