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Pragmatics Homework Assignment

Select at least TWO of these tasks (see below). Do each task with a
different person. These should be people you know at least somewhat
well, however, I do not recommend using your parents as they often do not
respond well to pragmatic violations committed by their children. When you
have selected your person, do not tell them anything about this assignment
ahead of time.
For each task (you need to do TWO diferent tasks), you will need to
describe the following:

1) The task/violation and the circumstances, such as where you


were, who you were with, etc.
2) A description of the other person, including their gender, age,
and their relationship to you.
3) The persons responses to the task/violation. Be specific, I
will expect more than a one- sentence answer.
4) The persons responses when you ask what he/she thought
about your actions and how they felt.
5) Provide a summary of your reaction/response to this
assignment. Again, I expect more than a one sentence response.
Did the responses surprise you? What did you learn from this
experience?
IMPORTANT: After the task is done, be sure to reveal that your
actions were part of an assignment (dont leave them in a state of
confusion!).
Common Sense warning: If the person starts getting upset, please
reveal the assignment immediately! Dont do anything that may
cause a break up or a severe misunderstanding or an arrest.
Seriously.
Pragmatic Violations tasks:
1.

Violate turn-taking rules. Either repeatedly interrupt your


friend(s) while you are engaged in a conversation OR do not give
up your turn (you may pause, but if someone else is about to
talk, you keep continuing with your turn).

2.

In the conversation, interpret everything that the other


person says literally. This mean, you need to interpret their

sarcasm, idioms, slang, etc. and pretend that you understood them
literally. This is actually pretty difficult you will have to pay
attention.
3.

During a conversation, repeatedly violate the Maxim of


Relevance (i.e., respond with off-topic statements).

4.

During a conversation, repeatedly violate the Maxim of Quantity.


Respond to questions with way too much information (TMI!) or give
less information than they need.

5.

Maintain too much or too little eye contact during a conversation

6. During a conversation, keep your facial expressions and your


vocal tone completely neutral (no smiling or joking) OR wait 2-3
seconds before providing the proper emotional response (ex: Your
friend says something funny, wait 2 or 3 seconds with no expression, and
then laugh.) You should still talk and provide answers, just no
expressions.
7. With a very close friend or sibling, be overly indirect in your
responses and requests. It should be someone that you are very close
with and with whom you are usually fairly direct. Ex: Saying, Excuse me,
if its not too much trouble would mind handing me that pencil? If you
arent too busy, could you please tell me when we may be eating dinner?
8. When a friend tries closing a conversation, keep opening it up
again OR after a conversation is closed (a face-to-face conversation),
simply do not leave. (Note: Dont get anyone in big trouble by making
them late for something important.)
9.

During a conversation, answer and respond to direct questions, but


do NOT make any acknowledgement gestures while the other
person is talking. Do not nod your head and do not make empty
verbal prompts (e.g., uh huh oh? really? mmm..). You SHOULD
still answer questions and provide informative statements, so they know
you are listening to them. This is actually very hard to do, so you might
want to practice