Pragmatics is closely related to discourse, the subject of the previous chapter, though its primary focus is on language in use, especially in conversation. Much is inferred in dialogue from the context in which the speakers are operating: the place, the relationship and status of the participants, the subject under discussion and the purpose of the exchange. The basic features of conversation were outlined by Grice (1975 and 1981). He highlighted as the most significant feature that all speakers in a conversation accept the co-operative principle (i.e. they co-operate to make what is being said as clear and as meaningful as possible to all other participants). To achieve this co-operation, Grice claimed that four maxims formed the basis of conversation: namely quantity, quality, relation and manner. Briefly, these four maxims embody the following assumptions: quantity: that a speaker should say as much, and only as much, as is required to make his/her message clear to the other participants; quality: that a speaker should say only what he/she believes to be true; relation: that each speaker should be relevant by contributing meaningfully and directly to the subject under discussion; and manner: that what is said should be clear, straightforward, succinct and well organised rather than obscure, ambiguous, long-winded and incoherent.
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