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Implicature, bullshit and confusion: Donald Trump's breaking of conversational rules and its effects
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

A conversation is governed by a number of unwritten rules which can be broken intentionally or unintentionally. The aim of this essay is to see if and how Donald Trump breaks rules of conversation during a press conference, and what effects he makes by doing so. According to Grice (1975), when people have conversations, they generally follow the cooperative principle, which he specifies into four maxims, Quantity, Quality, Relation and Manner. Previous research shows that Donald Trump breaks these maxims very often. He disregards the truth to the extent that it can be referred to as "bullshit".

In this essay I analysed a transcript of a press conference, held by Donald Trump after the mid-term elections last autumn, through the lens of Grice's theory. When breakages of conversational rules were found the effects were sorted under three categories, Implicature, the hidden meaning intended by the speaker, Bullshit, not caring about the truth and Confusion, not making yourself understood.

The results show that Donald Trump breaks all four maxims of the cooperative principle, making the effects of implicature, bullshit and confusion where implicature was the most common effect. The implicature that Trump seems to intend is that he is still or already on the campaign trail, trying to turn everything in his favour and making himself look good, in order to earn the trust of his voters.

The essay concludes that Trump rarely follows the rules of conversation, or as Gavaler and Goldberg (2017) puts it, he follows the anti-cooperative principle.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 44
Keywords [en]
Conversational rules, press conference, transcript, Donald Trump
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URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-14371Local ID: EON200OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-14371DiVA, id: diva2:1348532
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English
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Available from: 2019-09-05 Created: 2019-09-04 Last updated: 2019-09-05Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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  • de-DE
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  • en-US
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  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
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