Linguistic Analysis: Are You Cooperating with Your Readers?

Speakers

Joseph Devney
Principal, Joseph J. Devney Consulting

Start

December 13, 2018 - 2:00 PM

End

December 13, 2018 - 3:00 PM

Linguistic Analysis: Are You Cooperating with Your Readers?

In conversation, even with strangers, people tend to work together to communicate. “Conversational cooperation” is done unconsciously. Philosopher of language Paul Grice formalized the communication rules people follow in his four “maxims of conversational cooperation.” Linguists use the maxims as a tool to analyze discourses of all kinds. Someone who violates one or more of the maxims makes the communication less effective than it should be. A violation could even be a signal of deceit or dishonesty.

Technical writing is discourse, even if it is not quite a normal conversation. It is possible to analyze a user manual or a warning label or a glossary in terms of the maxims. Does it give the reader too little information? Or too much? Can it be misinterpreted? Is the organization effective? Might some of the language be misleading?

This webinar will describe and explain the “Gricean maxims” and how they are used in the field of discourse analysis. And how they can be used in the field of technical communication, as one way to ensure that your documentation does its job of communication effectively.

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