Is May a Griceian?
Jeremy Corbyn "01: I thought for a moment the er prime minister 02: was going
to say brexit means brexit again 03: ((laughter)) 04: erm 05: there are others
er 06: ((general noise)) 07: (5.0)((Corbyn gestures to PM)) 08: I’m sure (.)
I’m sure she’ll tell us one day 09: what it actually means erm ..."
May indicated however how she believes the slogan should be interpreted allá
Grice, i. e. as triggering, inviting or yielding what May calls "implicatura
conversazionale" (She was recently holidaying in the North of Italy).
May takes what Grice calls a patent tautology it allow its utterer (herSELF) to
mean that the government is listening to the people (lines 16-17).
By uttering the patent tautology, May implicates that the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland will leave the EU (line 22) and that no one
should be able to thwart that ambition (line 25).
In other words, anyone uttering the patent tautology can only implicate one
thing (leave the EU) and cannot mean something else short of this (line 27).
Theresa May 10:
"the er the leader of the opposition 11: er (.)
tries to poke fun at the phrase of 12:
brexit means brexit 13:
but the whole point is this 14: (6.0) 15:
brexit 16: it’s this government that is listening 17:
to the voice of the British people 18: ((cheers of approval) 19: (4.0) 20:
what the er (1.0) 21:
brexit means brexit 22:
that means [or its utterer implicates, strictly]we’re coming out of the
European Union 23: ((general noise)) 24:
what the right honourable gentleman tries to be doing 25:
is frustrating the will of the British people 26:
by saying that 27: brexit means something completely different ..."
So we have two Griceian utterers -- May and Corbyn -- using the same patent
tautology in pragmatically different ways, one to poke fun at, and mock, their
opponent; trivialising its use.
The other to suggest that Brexit has to happen and no one should try to argue
This illustrates nicely the division between semantics and pragmatics in
linguistic analysis. Semantics refers to the internal meaning of sentences
whereas pragmatics refers to their use in context and the intention behind them.
Theresa May tautology listen to the people, don’t try and frustrate
the popular mandate
Slightly unfortunately for May, one of her own ministers, Mark Garnier,
recently adopted the Corbyn neo-Griceian interpretation of the slogan.
Garnier says that he ‘would not use the PM’s popular soundbite for “obvious
reasons” as “it doesn’t give that much clarity."
Surely Garnier, who attended Oxford, is implicating Grice's 1965 lectures on
conversational, where he (Grice, not Garnier) speaks of the balance between a
conversational desideratum of clarity and a conversational desideratum of