Towards understanding the processing of indirect speech acts: Reconsidering the standard pragmatic model of processing
AuthorPolcar, Leah Elizabeth
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis investigation tests whether a stage-type model of the processing of indirect speech acts is a fully explanatory model. A stage model, like the Standard Pragmatic Model (SPM), proposes that listeners understand the meaning of an indirect speech act by first determining direct meaning and then checking this meaning against context for sufficiency. It is only when direct meaning is found not to fully capture context that a listener proceeds to understand the meaning of an indirect speech act. This sort of model has been heavily criticized in the extant theoretical and empirical research, though this investigation shows much of this criticism to be faulty and/or irrelevant to indirect speech act processing. Here, minor revision of the SPM is proposed through the introduction of Cdirect and C indirect meanings that makes the modified SPM sensitive to issues of conventionality. Two experiments test this modified model (the MSPM). Results of the first experiment showed that the MSPM is the most explanatory model in explaining the processing of non-conventional indirect speech acts. The second experiment was designed to replicate an earlier experiment by Shapiro and Murphy (1993) and to investigate the influence of conventionality on the processing of indirect speech acts. The results of the conventionality analysis allow no clear conclusions about how conventional indirect speech acts are processed, but do call the results of the Shapiro and Murphy (1993) investigation into question. Additionally, some indirect proof is found that shows that conventionality influences the processing of indirect speech acts by making judgments of direct meaning difficult when conventional cues are present. Implications of these results are discussed and overall, the MSPM is found to be the best model for describing indirect speech act processing.
Degree ProgramGraduate College