The cooperative principle in political discourse: flouting Gricean maxims in Modern Standard Arabic political speeches
The purpose of this study is to investigate the universality of the Gricean Theory of Conversational Implicature and its application to the Modern Standard Arabic on political speeches. To do this, a recorded available broadcasted interview on an Egyptian TV channel with an ex-president of one of the Arab states lasting for 82 minutes was transcribed and used to generate representative utterances for flouting the four maxims of speech (i.e. quantity, quality, relation and manner). Ten utterances were generated and analyzed to represent the violation of flouting the maxims of speech. The findings revealed that the Gricean Theory of Conversational Implicature can actually be applied to the Modern Standard Arabic. The findings of this work have two implications for the study of pragmatics. First, political speech has the norm of being overtly unsystematic and covertly systematic, and this interprets the need of the Gricean Theory towards speech regulation. Second, intentionality and unintentionality of the violation of the maxims of speech is probably controlled by the speaker sometimes and is being uncontrolled in some other times – raising the point that experimental and/or behavioral research is needed to develop a certain scale measuring this aspect.
Keywords: Gricean Theory, Conversational Implicature, Cooperative Principle, Maxims of Speech, Modern Standard Arabic
Languages have appeared and developed in the history of mankind for the sake of communication. People need to indulge in some kind of conversation in order to communicate and convey their messages. Still, interlocutors have to go through a number of steps and processes which may result in certain difficulties. The linguistic concept of implicature is considered one of those difficulties as it plays a paramount role in hampering the process of learning a language. Learners of both languages, English and Arabic, find it difficult to differentiate between what the speaker says and what s/he means. For this reason, this study focuses on investigating the Gricean theory of Conversational Implicature and its application to the Arabic language. The data collected comes from a series of interview discourses between the ex-president of one of the Arab states and an Egyptian journalist, which have been conducted in response to some current issues related to the public interest. Ten extracts have been selected in total, later transcribed and translated into English. They are further analyzed with the help of the Gricean theory of Conversational Implicature by investigating the ways he flouts the CP maxims in his presidential interview.
Anyone learning a language in the World has to go through many different steps and processes and encounter certain difficulties. These difficulties could be attributed to several issues/factors such as educational levels, learning purposes, individual and age differences, geographical origin, or the mother tongue interference, etc. Strictly speaking, learning a new language is not ‘a piece of cake’ and one should have sufficient contextual information and cultural background of the target language. Some issues might be especially problematic for non-native speakers and some might be a problem even for native-speakers themselves. There are a great number of puzzling lexical items that might have more than one variation of sense. These different meanings might lead to something called ambiguity or obscurity that might cause misunderstanding among speakers.
Due to the fact that the concept of ambiguity or implicature is a part and parcel of our day-to-day conversations the authors decided that it would be an interesting idea to investigate such a prominent topic. Sometimes we misunderstand each other because we are either not cooperating with one another or not recognizing what the speaker is trying to imply. Therefore, in order to understand, analyze and differentiate between what people say and what they mean, it is worth investigating such a theory and trying to apply it to the authors’ mother tongue, Arabic language. The authors recommend referring to (Alduais, 2012a-c; Al-Qaderi, 2015a-e) who carried out a number of studies about pragmatics and its application to Arabic, particularly on the Yemeni Arabic.
As is well known, languages have appeared and developed in the history of mankind for the sake of communication. People need to be indulged in any kind of conversation in order to communicate and convey their messages. During the conversation process, they do not procreate separate sentences, but rather they try to adapt to a general set of rules in accordance with their need of making up the whole of their messages and this is the core idea of pragmatics (Zor, 2006: 20).
Pragmatics has drawn the attention of many linguists and has been defined differently by many scholars. For instance, Thomas (2014) defines it as the "meaning in use or meaning in context" (Thomas, 2014: 1) whereas Montague (Montague,1970: 1) defines pragmatics as a science that is concerned with indexical expressions. For Katz and Fodor (Katz, Fodor,1963: 177) pragmatics is defined as a theory that is related to the disambiguation of sentences by the contexts in which they were uttered. Trask (Trask, 2007: 226) defines pragmatics as the branch of linguistics that is concerned with studying how utterances communicate meaning in a context. He (ibid.) goes on stating that the disparity between what is said and what is meant is the core idea of pragmatics. Wierzbicka (Wierzbicka, 2003) states that "[t]he discipline studying linguistic interaction between 'I' and 'you' is called pragmatics" (p.5). And according to Sperber and Wilson (Sperber, Wilson 1981: 282), pragmatics is defined as the study of language use. In other words, it is defined as "the study of how linguistic properties and contextual factors interact in the interpretation of utterances, enabling learners to bridge the gap between sentence meaning and speaker's meaning" (ibid.).
In pragmatics, the prime aim of communication lies in exchanging information. One of the theories that has led to the development of pragmatics as a separate field within linguistics is Gricean Conversational Implicature Theory. In this theory, Grice makes a clear- cut distinction between what is said and what is meant. He claims that speakers might produce implicit meanings and their discourse participants are able to infer these intended meanings from their conversations. He believes that people follow certain rules in their interactions. These rules do not tell how one should talk, but they explicate the listeners' assumptions with regard to the way speakers talk (Hadi, 2013: 69). In other words, Grice's Conversational Implicature Theory and the Cooperative Principle were proposed to describe how effective communication is achieved in common situations (Terkourafi, 2005: 1). Frederking (Frederking, 1996: 1) argued that the Gricean Theory of Conversational Implicature and the Cooperative Principle play a significant role, for some researchers, in thinking about how language works in real use and how implicatures get conveyed. Therefore, the Cooperative Principle and the maxims of conversation were defined by Grice as the principles that people abide by for successful communication. Grice (Grice,1975: 45) defined the Cooperative Principle as follows: "make your contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose of the talk exchange in which you are engaged". He also defined how people communicate in his article "Logic and Conversation" by stating that:
Our talk exchanges do not normally consist of a succession of disconnected remarks, and would not be rational if they did. They are characteristically, to some degree at least, cooperative efforts; and each participant recognizes in them, to some extent, a common purpose or set of purposes, or at least a mutually accepted direction. (Grice, 1975: 47 in Zor, 2006: 20)
To put it another way, we as speakers try to be cooperative by contributing meaningful and productive utterances to further the conversation. And, as listeners, we assume that our conversational partners are doing the same. The simplest way to think of Grice's maxims is to think of them as general rules we follow in conversation. However, the interesting thing about these rules is that we do not always follow them. Under the Cooperative Principle, there are four maxims and below each maxim, there are some other sub-maxims (1975: 45-46):
Table 1: Maxims of speech according to the Gricean Theory
Make your contribution as informative as is required
The maxim of Quantity
Do not make your contribution more informative than is required
Do not say what you believe to be false
The maxim of Quality
Do not say that for wich you lack adequate evidence
Make your contributions relevant
The maxim of Relation
The maxim of Manner
Avoid obscurity of expression
Moreover, there is always a relationship between the speaker and the maxims. Grice generalized the Cooperative Principle in four maxims that are followed by discourse participants. However, it seems that people do not always follow these maxims when they communicate, and he identified four ways in which discourse participants break or fail to fulfill maxims in conversation: violating, opting out, clashing and flouting. (Lindblom, 2001: 1603). Thus, the current study is just confined to flouting maxims.
It goes without saying that flouting maxims depend on the type of the maxim. For instance, the speaker flouts the maxim of quantity by blatantly giving either more or less information that the situation demands. Flouting the maxim of quality is done by saying something untrue or which lacks adequate evidence. Flouting the maxim of relation occurs by giving a response that is irrelevant to the topic being discussed. And finally flouting the maxim of manner occurs when the speaker does not say things clearly, concisely, orderly, and does not avoid ambiguity and obscurity of expression.
Given this, the significance of this study springs from the fact that the English and Arabic languages are not cognate languages and, as a result, learners of both languages may encounter a lot of difficulties in learning them. To the best of the authors’ knowledge and based on their experience, the linguistic implicature concept is regarded as one of those difficulties that play a paramount role in hampering the process of learning a language. More specifically, the authors have observed that learners of both languages, English and Arabic, find it really difficult to differentiate between what the speaker says and what s/he means. And the prime aim of the present study is to investigate whether the Theory of Conversational Implicature can be applied to the Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). This general aim leads to formulating the following study questions: 1) Are the Gricean Theory of Conversational Implicature and its Cooperative Principle universal? And 2) Can this theory be applied to the MSA, particularly?
The theoretical population of this study are top politicians, that is, president, king, prince, sultan, etc. However, the accessible population is available online interviews with those officials. The sampling frame is online recorded interviews. The sample is an online interview with an ex-president of the Arab states located in the Arabian Peninsula. Since the major focus is on flouting the maxims of speech so it is not important to refer directly to the real name of the ex-president and/or the country (i.e. Country A will be used to indicate this country and along with its ex-president and the so-called current president.). Besides, the major purpose of this analysis remains purely linguistic and it does not have any political purpose or bias. Discourse analysis is also not part of this paper so it doesn’t include any political implications either directly or indirectly. The full information of the data is shared with the editor of the journal only for publication purposes and will not appear for the readers to avoid any reversed interpretation or misinterpretation of this paper in part or in whole.
This paper doesn’t have any direct intrusion with humans. The main and only source of data collection on this paper is unobtrusive measure. We namely used, indirect unobtrusive measure, that is, accessible online recorded interviews with the ex-president of country A. The four types of maxims guided this measure based on the researchers’ experience and knowledge of these four maxims: quantity, quality, relation and manner. Judging the data or reliability and validity was based on considering: credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability. To start with credibility, the researchers transparently generated the speech utterances which clearly represent the four types of the maxims of speech. Therefore, the results attempted to keep the objectivity level as high as possible. Transferability is accounted for through making clear explanations of the followed steps for collecting the data, analyzing it and inferring conclusions to decide on the universality of the Gricean Theory. Further, we assume this paper has above average dependability rate. In other words, we claim that any researcher with average knowledge or pragmatics, would be able to generate the same speech utterance representing the four maxims of speech. There would be certainly more or less different interpretations, wording, etc. but at the end, there will be one end that each utterance of speech is representing a certain maxim of speech. Last but not least, confirmability which was ensured through being corroborated by the two authors of this paper. The two researchers attempted to check that the input is matching the output of this study and that the used methods are clearly explained to the readers towards logical output and conclusions.
A non-probability design was used in this study. The design assumes that using the Gricean Theory of the Conversational Implicature is applicable to MSA on the context of political speeches using a recorded interview to the ex-president of country A. Generalizability of this output be it positive or negative remains limited to this specific context and lacks high credibility due to the small amount of the analyzed data.
The data collected comes from a series of interview discourses between the ex-president of country A and the Egyptian journalist, on an Egyptian channel which have been conducted in response to some current issues related to the public interest in 2014. The interview was around 82 minutes long. Ten extracts were selected in total for the purpose of investigating the Gricean Theory of Conversational Implicature available at YouTube Website. The extracts were transcribed and translated from Arabic into English. They were further analyzed and interpreted on the basis of the Gricean theory of Conversational Implicature by exploring the ways he flouts the maxims in his presidential interview as well as the impression of the author as a native speaker of Arabic.
We proposed that the Gricean maxims of speech are universal and can be applied to all languages and more specifically here MSA on political context. The collected data to evidence this is presented below. First, the example in the source language is presented. Second, the English translation is presented and then followed by an explanation showing the relevant maxim of speech being violated. In total, ten examples are presented below representing the four types of maxims, some of which show the violation of a number of maxims concurrently.
Example (1): (Source in Arabic)
الصحفي: هل كلمة زعيم فيها مسؤولية تجاه الشعب اليمني؟
الرئيس: هذا جانب تاريخي. انك تقول عليه زعيم, زعيم الحزب, زعيم المؤتمر, زعيم الرئاسة, أمير, ملك, هذا لا يشكل مشكلة.
Example (1): (Translated into English)
Journalist: Is the word "Leader" has any kind of responsibility towards the …people?
President: This is a historical aspect. You call him leader, party leader, conference party leader, presidential leader, prince, king, this is not a problem.
It is well-known that the maxim of relation is flouted when the speaker unexpectedly changes the main topic of the conversation. In other words, flouting the maxim of relation is done by saying things that are not relevant to the topic under discussion in order to prevent random, incoherent conversations that lack continuity and to make it possible to understand conversations. In the first example, the maxim of relation is flouted in the president's response. The question was about whether the word "leader" may indicate any kind of responsibility towards the … people. In other words, the journalist wanted to question whether the president is up to the word "leader" or not? However, the president's answer was not related to the question. It was also a reason for flouting the maxim of manner by saying something indirect, ambiguous and not clear.
Example (2): (Source in Arabic)
الصحفي: انا شفت صور سيدتك في العاصمة وانا جاي لك في الطريق معلقينها مواطنين عاديين. ايه سبب ده؟
الرئيس : عشان تكون في الصورة, انا كنت في امريكا قبل 22 فبراير ذهبت للعلاج في امريكا وجهت خطاب للشعب بالتوجه الى صناديق الاقتراع لانتخاب … ووجهت بنزول الصور من كل المكاتب ومن كل الشوارع, نزلوها بقرار مني. الان نتيجة لهذا الوضع الجميل والحالي يهتموا بالصورة , يتذكروا ذكريات, لا قتلنا ولا سجنا ولا تمترسنا بكرسي السلطة اذا لازم نحترم هذا الرجل, تقريبا هذا ما افهمه انا لكن تستطيع تسأل سياسيين اخرين.
Example (2): (Translated into English)
Journalist: I have seen pictures of you in the capital, …, and on the way to you held by ordinary citizens. Why is that?
President: To put you on the picture, I was in the United States before February 22. I went for treatment there and at that time I delivered a speech for the people to go to the polls to elect recent president and ordered to take off all my pictures from all offices and all the streets. Now, as a result of this beautiful and current situation, they do pay attention to my picture once again in order to just remember me and say the ex-president did not kill us, or imprison us nor cling to the power. Consequently, it was necessary to respect this man, almost that's what I understand, but you can ask other politicians.
Pragmatically speaking, the maxim of quantity is flouted when the speaker gives either more or less information than is required. Here the maxim of quantity was flouted because the president's answer was too much. The interviewer asked him about the reason why the president's pictures are still held in the streets. But the president's answer includes some information about the president's visit to the U.S and other additional information. We can infer that flouting the maxim of quantity may indicate three things, i.e. being indirect, being over-informative or politically beating around the bush. In the above-mentioned example, it is obvious that the president tried to use indirect utterances by referring to his visit to the U.S and it was also apparent that the ex-president tended to give more information than was demanded by the interviewer/journalist. Such a strategy was used to build a situation that he was fully capable and aware of certain topics being asked. Moreover, it can be inferred that the ex-president tended to use open answers to flout the maxims. Because, as we all know, that a closed answer indicates that the speaker observes the maxims.
Example (3): (Source in Arabic)
الصحفي: مش شايف انه غريب تكون المشير ….. وتخرج في شوارع ….. وتعمل زيارات وغيره, ما بتخفش؟
الرئيس : ما هو مقدر على الانسان لابد ما يكون , انا امس خارج في ….. خرجت الريف, حر, اذا وفي الاجل , اتوكل على الله .
Example (3): (Translated into English)
Journalist: Isn’t it weird that as a Marshal (….) goes out and appears in the streets of ….. and pays visits? Are not you feel scared?
President: What is destined for the human must be imposed on us. I was outside …. yesterday and I went out to the countryside, free. Whenever it is destined to die, definitely, I will.
In this example, the maxim of quantity was flouted because the president's answer was not adequate enough. The journalist asked about why the president is not scared of going out. But, the president's answer was short and not informative enough. He replied by saying that we will be given what it is destined to us. Culturally speaking, the implied meaning is adequate to be understood by Arabic speakers, but, on the other hand, it seems to be difficult for non-native speakers of Arabic to decipher the implied meaning. Consequently, this leads the maxim of manner to be flouted as well because the president's answer was ambiguous was not clear.
Example (4): (Source in Arabic)
الصحفي: مش غريبه انه يكون في خلافات حاده بينك وبين الرئيس …….؟
الرئيس : انا ليس بيني وبينه أي خلاف, هو مختلف مع نفسه, مختلف ان ……. موجود على قيد الحياة, بس, انا لما كنت في امريكا في 2012, اتضح لي ان امريكا تريد يخلقوا شعبية ….. على حسابي. الان الامريكان ما عندهم مصلحة مع ….., يريدوا منه يكون فريسة او ضحية لخلق قاعدة شعبية……..
Example (4): (Translated into English)
Journalist: Is not it strange that there are some sharp disagreements between you and the current president?
President: Actually, I am not in bad terms with him. He is different with himself. His only problem is that why the ex-president is still alive, but, when I was in the United States in 2012, it turns out that the U.S wants to create a popularity for the current president on my account. Americans now have no interest with the ex-president, and therefore, they want him to be the prey or victim to create a popular base for the current president.
In this example, both maxims of quantity and quality were flouted. The maxim of quantity was flouted when the president provided too much information regarding the question being asked. The question was about the conflict between him and the current president. But, the president also talked about the role of the U.S in supporting the current president. Besides, the maxim of quality was flouted because the president's answer lacks evidence. He assumes that the U.S plays an important role in supporting the current president at the expense of the previous one, the interviewee, and this piece of information should be based on an evidence. In this way, he wanted to emphasize that as the President of country A, he used to have the ability in analyzing, planning and solving various problems throughout his reign. He wanted to create a positive impression about his character as a leader and to build a positive political image about himself.
Example (5): (Source in Arabic)
الصحفي: هل انت الان زعيم سياسي ام زعيم روحي؟
الرئيس : انا اعتبر نفسي مش زعيم سياسي, انا زعيم … قدم لوطنه ما استطاع ان يقدمه, بس, كيف؟ هذا يقيمه الشارع والسياسيين. واحد يقول زعيم سياسي وواحد يقول زعيم وطني.
Example (5): (Translated into English)
Journalist: Are you now a political leader or a spiritual leader?
President: I consider myself not a political leader. I'm a … leader who offered to his homeland what he was able to offer, but, how? This can be established by the street and politicians. One says a political leader and one says a national leader.
Here both maxims of relation and manner were flouted. The maxim of relation was flouted because the president's answer was not related to the journalist's question. The question was direct by asking whether his being a political or spiritual leader. It means that the answer is supposed to be one of the above-mentioned two options. However, the president, as a politician, gave a diplomatic answer which contains a lot of unrelated information. Moreover, the maxim of manner was flouted when the president provided an indirect answer. The maxim of manner suggests that speakers have to try presenting meaning clearly, concisely orderly, and avoid ambiguity and obscurity of expression (Grice 1975).
Example (6): (Source in Arabic)
الصحفي: هل في احتمالية ان يكون سيادة الرئيس السابق لديه رغبة او تخطيط ان يعود للحكم مرة اخرى؟
الرئيس: لا. انا اتخلصت منها بارادتي كيف اعود اليها, لانه …. سنه اعطيتها وانا في قمة شبابي. الذي يشتي يحكم لازم يكون بروح شبابية وثقافة معينه وفي اطار المعطيات الجديدة. معطيات اليوم غير معطيات الامس, معطيات بكره غير معطيات اليوم, معطيات الشهر القادم غير معطيات الشهر الماضي, العام القادم غير العام اللي مضى. لازم كل شي جديد. العجلة تدور, ضروري تكون في قراءة صحيحه لكل المتغيرات السياسية.
Example (6): (Translated into English)
Journalist: Is it possible that the former ex-president has the will or the intention to return to power again?
President: No way! I handed it over myself. So how come I will return back to it, for …. years, I did my best while I was still young. If anyone wants to rule, s/he should have the spirit of youth and a certain culture according to the newest demands and needs. Because the demands of today are not like yesterday's demands, the demands of tomorrow are not like the demands of today, the demands of the next month is unlike those of the last month, next year is completely different from the last year. Everything should be new because the wheel revolves. Thus, there should be a correct reading for all political variables.
In this example, the maxim of relation is flouted because the president's answer was not related to the question being asked. The journalist asked about the possibility of planning to return back to the power again. However, the president's answer did not contain any indication whether the president has the will and intention to go back to it or not, but he talked a lot about what one has to get in order to be a ruler and the differences between the demands of today and those of yesterday.
Example (7): (Source in Arabic)
الصحفي: اكيد فاهم انه الزمن ما يرجعش , لكن.. ؟
الرئيس : ولكن الزمن لن يأتي باحسنه . النظام القادم لن يكون افضل من النظام السابق. المفروض المستقبل ياتي بالافضل وثورات التغيير التي حصلت المفروض تاتي بالافضل ولكن هذا الذي لم يحدث, بل العكس.
Example (7): (Translated into English)
Journalist: I understand that time does not go back, but…?
President: But the time will never be good again. The next regime will not be better than the previous one. The Future is supposed to come with the best. The same is true with the revolutions which are supposed to bring change that hasn’t taken place, but the opposite.
Here, as we all know, the maxim of quality is flouted when the speaker provides an information that is not true or lacks an adequate evidence. In this example, the president's answer was not based on any kind of evidence or truth. He mentioned that future will never bring something good. He wanted to imply that his reign was the best ever and none can bring something better. This claim needs an evidence to be believed. Therefore, the maxim quality was completely flouted.
Example (8): (Source in Arabic)
الصحفي: هو مش سيدتك اللي دعمت …… من البداية, الرئيس الحالي؟
الرئيس : نعم انا اللي دعمته من البداية وعاد كان نائب رئيس. الشمعة المضيئة , استطيع ان اجزم عليها, هي في …. الان . التجربة ….. التي امل ان تتكرر في كل الاقطار العربية. كثير من الشعب ….. يسافر ….. للعلاج والسياحة , شعروا بالامان في عهد …., كان يذهبوا في عهد …. يرجعوا وايديهم على قلوبهم , الفنادق مهدده, السياحة مهدده, المتاجر مهدده, يقفلوا الفنادق الساعة 8.
Example (8): (Translated into English)
Journalist: Was not your majesty used to support the current president from the very beginning, the current president?
President: Yes, I am the one who supported him from the beginning and also when he was the vice-president. You know, the shining candle, I can believe, is in …. now. The …. experience which I hope will be repeated in all Arab states. Many of the … people travel to …. for treatment or tourism, they felt safe during the reign of the current president of country B. When they were used to go during the reign of the ex-president of country B, they used to come back frightened. Everything is threatened; hotels, tourism, shops. Even hotels are used to close at 8 pm.
In this example, both maxims of relation and quality were flouted. The president's answer flouted the maxim of relation by providing something unrelated to the question being asked. The journalist asked about ex-president’s support to the current president. He answered the question but changed the topic abruptly to talk about another country; something which is completely different and unrelated to the question being asked. The maxim of quality was also flouted here. The president mentioned that " [m]any of the Yemeni people travel to country B for treatment or tourism, they felt safe during the reign of the current president of country B. When they were used to go during the reign of the ex-president of country B, they used to come back frightened. Everything is threatened; hotels, tourism, shops. Even hotels are used to close at 8 pm" and this could be untrue. Who knows? There should be an evidence on which this piece of information can be built.
Example (9): (Source in Arabic)
الصحفي: ازاي احنا ما عرفناش ولم تعلن أي حقائق عن محاولة الاغتيال الاولى في المسجد؟
الرئيس : واضحه, …... لا مجال للشك.
Example (9): (Translated into English)
Journalist: How did not we get to know any facts about your first assassination attempt in the mosque?
President: It was obvious. …….. No doubts about it.
Here the maxim of quality was flouted. It is obvious in the president's answer when he mentioned that it is the claimed party who are responsible for the assassination attempt which had happened to him earlier inside his presidential mosque. It is well-known that the investigations are still in process. No results or leaks that uncovered something about it. Therefore, an evidence is missing here.
Example (10): (Source in Arabic)
الصحفي: انت قلت انه من المستحيل ان تفكر تعود للحكم مرة اخرى؟
الرئيس : لا اقبل ولا يقبل نجلي ولا يقبل ابن ابني. لانه طيلة … عام وانا…….. شعب مسلح, امي, التقسيم الجغرافي والقبلي. طيلة فترة حكمي, كانت مبنية على العلاقات وليس على شراء الضمائر بالفلوس او السيارات.
Example (10): (Translated into English)
Journalist: You said it’s impossible to think to return back to power again...?
President: I will never accept not my son nor my grandson will accept it. For …. years and I have been ……. People are armed, illiterate, and also because of the geographical and tribal division. Throughout my reign, everything was based on relationships and not on buying consciences with money or cars.
In this last example, the maxims of relation, manner and quality were flouted. The president's answer flouted the maxim of relation by saying something unrelated to the journalist's question. The journalist started to ask about the president's intention to go back to rule. However, the president involved his son and his grandson in the topic. And also he talked about his reign and how he suffered during that time. Furthermore, the president's answer shows that the maxim of manner was flouted because the answer was not direct and not clear. And finally, the maxim of quality was flouted when he ended up his interview by saying that he was used to build his ruling period on relationships and not by buying consciences with money or cars. This seems to be untrue. Because one of the reasons that had brought about the last revolution against the ex-president in 2011 was the financial corruption which destroyed the economy of the country.
This research paper claimed the universality of the Gricean Theory and its applicability to the MSA on political speeches context. The researchers assumed that all types of flouting maxims of speech would be observed on MSA political speeches. The findings of this study evidenced the applicability of this theory to MSA. The presented ten utterances showed clearly how each maxim of speech was flouted. This output has two possible explanations. First, just as the Gricean Theory proposes that our speech is overtly unsystematic but it is covertly systematic. In other words, we do speak and communicate but we certainly sometimes violate some rules either consciously or subconsciously – say intentionally or unintentionally. Based on the context of the speech and the speaker, whether it is intentional or unintentional violation can be decided. However, the decision of intentionality and unintentionality remains arguable and questionable since it is just based on inferences evidenced by context and position of the speaker. For instance, political speeches are so common area and context for intentional violation for maxims of speech. On the other hand, daily conversations might be usually if not always so common context of unintentional violation of maxims of speech. Needless to say, this is being logically directed by the need to speak either directly as in daily life conversations or indirectly as in political speeches and diplomatic situations. These matters, we think, would control, a certain utterance, being intentionally or unintentionally violated. Second, we do think that flouting maxims of speech is a norm of speech be it during daily conversations or formal speeches like those on political context. In detail, spoken language is proposedly characterized by being unsystematic. Moreover, occurrence of these four maxims of speech would occur whether the speaker intends to do so or not. It is not possible; however, to decide through our presented evidence on the frequency of the violation of the maxims of speech between different contexts (e.g. political, diplomatic, daily conversation), different types of speakers (politicians vs. journalist, politicians vs. politicians, friends, close friends, etc.), or different topics (e.g. food, culture, sex, politics, science, etc.).
To cut a long story short, in order to understand, analyze and differentiate between what people say and what they mean, it is worthy investigating such a theory and trying to apply it to one's own mother tongue. This study has proved that the Gricean Conversational Implicature Theory can be applied to MSA. The data elaborated above has revealed that all the maxims were flouted by the ex-president of an Arab state in one of his presidential interviews and the maxims of quality and relation were frequently flouted, in comparison to the other two maxims.
This study has a number of limitations. The first limitation of this study is methodological. We mentioned that the MSA was used during the interview but in fact there was an integration of two of the Arabic verities as well. We think this could theoretically affect the accuracy of the reported research methods but practically it does not affect the collected data and final evidence. The second limitation of this study is the credibility of the data which is very limited and it makes its generalizability somehow weak. In other words, it seems really so weak to claim that the Gricean Theory is just universal because of the evidence brought based on those ten utterances, albeit, they practically form a clear indicator of the universality of such theory. The third limitation of this study is related to transparency of the reported data where to avoid any conflict of interest and due to the very critical situation in the country representing the context of the study, we used indirect names for the included samples. This is also supported by our view that our research is purely linguistic and is not considering any political science indications and or implications be it directly or indirectly.
Future research should consider collecting more data and yet generating more examples of all the maxims of speech to make more credible generalization of the universality of the Gricean Theory. Further research also can consider a comparison between political speeches and daily conversation speeches to see which one would result into more violation of the maxims of speech and possibly developing scale to measure the intentionality type, that is, being intentionally or unintentionally violated.