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Indirect directives (or when to say "please")
Riedmann, Casey M.
Gawron, Jean Mark
Kaplan, Jeffrey P.
One of the most intriguing problems in pragmatics and Speech Act theory is indirect speech acts like Can you pass the salt? which are questions that function primarily as requests referred to here as whimperatives. The primary interpretation of a whimperative can be considered its conventionalized form. This work examines the whimperative structure by looking at each syntactic unit, establishing clear criteria for what constitutes conventionalization. This description of conventionalization is then used to investigate the accuracy of the please-insertion test. This test has been used as a primary marker of conventionalized requests. However, this work argues that please is merely a strong illocutionary marker of requests and that please works with many non-conventionalized utterances. A survey was administered to 79 English speakers who judged various whimperative utterances by the context in which they may occur. In whimperatives that are not conventionalized due to the use of a stative verb, please presents an intra-sentential conflict that the hearer must resolve. The results showed that these non-conventionalized forms are most often treated as requests when please is admitted to the sentence. Since the sentences in question are all interrogative in form, the inescapable conclusion is that even by definition, formally interrogative sentences that have not been conventionalized as requests can function as indirect requests, with the addition of please. The key contribution of this thesis is to clearly identify a set of formal features that make them able to function as indirect requests, including specific moods of modality, direct or indirect specification of an addressee, and the appropriate type of verb.
Linguistics and Asian/Middle Eastern Languages
Health and Human Services
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2017
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