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Seminar paper from the year 2009 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Linguistics, grade: 2,0, Technical University of Braunschweig, language: English, abstract: Phatic Communication What does it mean when someone asks ´How are you?` Usually the speaker expects to hear a response like ´I am fine, thank you. How are you?`, if he is trying to make ´chit-chat`. It is assumed that all people are able to seize a distinction between chit-chat and the attempt to conduct a genuine conversation. To make it easier to understand I will start with two conversations which I am going to analyze: (1)Groundhog Day ML: I hope you enjoy the festivities. PC: Oh I´m sure I´m going to (pulls face). ML: There´s there´s talk of a blizzard. PC: Well, we may catch a break and that blizzard´s gonna blow right by us. All of this moisture coming up outta the south by midday is probably gonna push on to the east of us and at high altitudes it´s gonna crystallise and give us what we call snow. (winks) Probably be some accumulation. But here in Punxsutawney our high´s gonna get up to about 30 today, teens tonight, chance of precipitation about 20 per cent today 20 per cent tomorrow. Did you wanna talk about the weather or were you just making chit-chat? ML: (shrugs and shakes head) Chit-chat. PC: OK. Right. See you later. B´bye. ML: Oh em eh will you be checking out today Mr. Connors? PC: Chance of departure today one hundred per cent. Obviously MC just wanted to make chit-chat what means that Connor´s detailed answer was inappropriate. Since he is doing this intentionally he could have reasons for his behaviour (e.g. he does not like chit-chat; he does not like MC). The next example is a conversation between two real estate salesmen: (2)Glengarry Glen Ross RR: How are you GA: Fine (,,) you mean on the board (,) you mean you mean you mean on the board RR: I (,) yes (,) the board GA: I'm fucked on the board Speakers: RR = Ricky Roma; GA = George Aaronow. Contextual assumptions: Roma is very successful in contrast to Aaronow, which is a fact well-known to both since their performances are being recorded on the mentioned board in their office. Only the best two salesmen will keep their jobs while the others are about to get fired. The question which arises is which utterance should be interpreted as phatic and which as non-phatic (if there is anything like that). Referring to example (1) we can say that Mrs. Lancaster´s attempt to start a verbal exchange could be called phatic since she is trying to make contact with Connor. Connor´s dis-preferred response, however, can be considered as negatively phatic. As mentioned above, i

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