Request-making as communication-based problem solving

Posted on January 27, 2016 by



Our first seminar of 2016 features Per Durst-Andersen from the Copenhagen Business School, talking about Request-making as communication-based problem-solving through imperative, declarative or interrogative sentence forms.

The seminar will be on Tuesday 2nd Feb at 4.15pm, in Samuel Alexander SG1. After the talk there will be drinks and crisps. Join us there!

Here’s the abstract:


The talk will discuss some long-held assumptions in linguistics, pragmatics and communication studies, viz. language as consisting of symbols, the symbol as a two-sided sign, the utterance as an arbitrary and conventional sign, and face as a notion solely linked to speaker and hearer. It will be argued that despite its obvious anchoring in verbal communication Request-making has more in common with non-verbal communication and therefore it should be interpreted as consisting of indexical signs: symptom, signal and model. A model for communication-based problem-solving, called the Pragmatic Wheel, is created on the basis of the imperative which is used to solve problems without negotiation to save society’s face. From this basic model a declarative variant is derived for negotiation between the speaker and the hearer – here is the speaker’s face is prioritized, because he is taken deeply serious. And, finally, from this model an interrogative variant is derived. This variant seems to avoid the notion of problem and to prioritize the hearer’s face. Russian, English, Danish and Chinese examples from a recently made production test involving 250 participants will be presented.

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