Pragmatics in History


‘In the late 1960s, two elderly American tourists who had been touring Scotland reported that,  in their travels, they had come to a Scottish town in which there was a great ruined cathedral. As they stood in the ruins, they saw a small boy and they asked him when the cathedral had been so badly damaged. He replied in the war. Their immediate interpretation, in the late 1960s, was that he must be referring to the Second World War which had ended only twenty years earlier. But then they thought that the ruins looked as if they had been in their dilapidated state for much longer than that, so they eventually discovered, had formally ended in 1745.

Brown (1998)’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 127

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Bambification [Noun.]


‘BAMBIFICATION: The mental conversion of flesh and blood living creatures into cartoon characters possessing bourgeois Judeo-Christian attitudes and morals.

Coupland (1991)’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 66

Second Language Acquisition


‘”Easter is a party for to eat of the lamb,” the Italian nanny explained. “One too may eat of the chocolate.”

“And who brings the chocolate?” the teacher asked.

I knew the word, so I raised my hand saying, “The rabbit of Easter. He brings the chocolate.”

“A rabbit?” The teacher, assuming I’d used the wrong word, positioned her index fingers on top of her head, wriggling them as though they were ears. “You mean one of these? A rabbit rabbit?”

“Well, sure,” I said. “He come in the night when one sleep on a bed. With a hand he have a basket and foods.”

The teacher sighed and shook her head. As far as she was concerned I had just explained everything that was wrong with my country. “No, no,” she said. “Here in France the chocolate is brought by a big bell that flies in from Rome.”

I called for a time-out. “But how do the bell know where you live?”

“Well,” she said, “how does a rabbit?”

Sedaris (2000)’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 186

Gestures


‘This old lady, in her nineties, but sharp as a pin, would sometimes fall into a peaceful reverie. As she did so, she might have seemed to be knitting, her hands in constant complex motion. But her daughter, also a signer, told me she was not knitting but thinking to herself, thinking in Sign. And even in her sleep, I was further informed, the old lady might sketch fragmentary signs on the couterpane. She was dreaming in sign.

Sacks (1989)’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 198

Language and Culture


‘The Quakers rejected the use of you as a polite form of address, and preferred thou, which to them signalled intimacy and equality. By refusing to use you because they took it as a deferential form of address, the Quakers provoked hostility from others who regarded their behavior as a sign of contempt. The repercussions of such deviant usage were severe for some Quakers such as Richard Davis, who reported that when he addressed the lady of the house in which he worked as thou, “she took a stick and gave me such a blow upon my bare head, that made it swell and sore for a considerable time. She was so disturbed by it, that she swore she would kill me.”

Romaine (2000)’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 266

Discourse Analysis


‘There’s two types of favors, the big favor and the small favor. You can measure the size of the favor by the pause that a person takes after they ask you to “Do me a favor.” Small favor – small pause. “Can you do me a favor, hand me that pencil.” No pause at all. Big favors are, “Could you do me a favor …” Eight seconds go by. “Yeah? What?”

“… well.” The longer it takes them to get to it, the bigger the pain it’s going to be.

Humans are the only species that do favors. Animals don’t do favors. A lizard doesn’t go up to a cockroach and say, “Could you do me a favor and hold still, I’d like to eat you alive.” That’s a big favor even with no pause.

Seinfeld (1993)’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 141

Metonym‏ [Noun.]


‘The relatedness of meaning found in polysemy is essentially based on similarity. The head of a company is similar to the head of a person on top of and controlling the body. There is another relationship between words, based simply on a close connection in everyday experience. That close connection can be based on a container-contents relation (battle/water, can/juice), a whole-part relation (car/wheels, house/roof) or a representative-symbol relationship (king/crown, the President/the White House). Using one of these words to refer to the other is an example metonymy.’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 121

Polysemy‏ [Noun.]


‘When we encounter two or more words with the same form and related meanings, we have what is technically known as polysemy. Polysemy can be defined as one form (written or spoken) having multiple meanings that are all related by extension. Examples are the word head, used to refer to the object on top of your body, froth on top of a glass of beer, person at the top of a company or department, and many other things.’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 120