The Mutt and Jute dialogue in Joyce's Finnegans Wake: Some Gricean Perspectives
Style 28. 2 (Summer, 1994): 219 (23 pages).
Let us swop hats and excheck a few strong verbs weak oach eather yapyazzard abast the blooty creeks.
(Finnegans Wake 16. 8-9)
1. PERSPECTIVES ON GRICE
It has been nearly twenty years since Mary Louise Pratt, in Toward a Speech Act Theory of Literary Discourse, extended to literary discourse ideas about language and communication developed by the philosopher H. P. Grice. Even so, Pratt's book did not attempt to account for communicative acts represented in literary discourse--e.g., literary dialogues--but rather for "the literary speech situation" in a global sense (100ff.).(1) Here, by contrast, I wish to explore the possibilities and limits of Grice's conversational analysis vis-a-vis local versus global literary speech situations. Specifically, I shall examine the extent to which Grice's ideas and methods can be used as a framework for understanding the dialogue between Mutt and Jute in Finnegans Wake.(2) By invoking Grice's ideas in this context, we can in the first place work toward a finer- grained conception of conversation analysis as a tool for literary interpretation. But furthermore, we can also rethink the way literary texts themselves function as what we might term models for hypothetical discourse situations. Literary dialogues like Joyce's, as we might also put it, stage the principles and mechanisms of dialogue in general, forcing us to reflect on our canons for conversational coherence.
I shall examine the form and functioning of the Mutt and Jute episode, then, in light of a broadly Gricean perspective on discourse and communication. I say "broadly Gricean" because, here, I shall focus not so much on the specifics as on the legacy of Grice's theories: what Grice has taught practitioners of conversational analysis and what they in turn may be able to teach us about Mutt and Jute. Grice's lesson, essentially, is that when text-grammarians and others try to locate within a text or a discourse the principles explaining the coherence of that text or discourse(3)--what makes it more than a mere jumble of sentences, a hodgepodge of statements-they are engaged in a fundamentally misguided attempt (cf. Blakemore 237 and in passim). For Griceans, cohesiveness is not a property inhering in texts, but instead a relation between sentences--or, rather, utterances--that we ourselves bring to texts in our bid to interpret them.
On the one hand, since the early 1970s scholars working on text grammars have adopted a text-internal approach to the problem of textual cohesion (see van Dijk, "Introduction," for a brief historical survey of the text-grammatical tradition). Thus researchers like Teun A. van Dijk and Robert de Beaugrande have sought to project relations between sentences into textual "surface structures" via syntactic rules like those governing definitivization (article-selection) from sentence to sentence, whereby " the 'contextual' conditions for definitivization, normally left over to performance, are thus explicitly brought within the scope of the text grammar" (van Dijk, Some Aspects 8; cf. 42ff.). On the other hand, researchers working in the Gricean tradition typically shift the burden of coherence from texts to contexts, from discourses to the people who make and use them. After all, the emphasis on textual coherence as (in part) a function of context motivates what Grice describes as the Cooperative Principle: most basically, one's default assumption that one's interlocutor is designing and processing utterances in a reasoned or predictable manner. For Grice, "talk exchanges," which can be seen as "a special case or variety of purposive, indeed rational, behavior" (28),
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. . . . We might then formulate a rough general principle which participants will be expected (ceteris paribus) to observe, namely: Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged. One might label this the Cooperative Principle. (26)
Along the same lines, a user-oriented view of coherence underlies what Grice describes as conversational implicatures: i.e., meanings that attach, in nonrandom ways, to utterances by virtue of the contexts of those utterances rather than by virtue of the conventional meaning of the expressions uttered (Grice 22-40; cf. Levinson 97-166, Fasold 119-46, and below, section 3).(4)
Scholars working in the broadly Gricean tradition include John J. Gumperz, for example, who argues that "cohesion or coherence does not inhere in the text as such. It is the listeners' search for a relationship, along with their failure to find anything to contradict the assumption that a connection must exist, that motivates the interpretation" (33). Gillian Brown and George Yule put the point even more strongly: "Within chunks of language which are conventionally presented as texts, the hearer/reader will make every effort to impose a coherent interpretation, i.e., to treat the language thus presented as constituting 'text.' We do not see an advantage in trying to determine constitutive formal features which a text must possess to qualify as a 'text.' Texts are what hearers and readers treat as texts" (199). The latter formulation represents, perhaps, the Gricean perspective in extremis. Brown and Yule's suggestion that textual coherence, or texthood as such, is purely a function of interpretation goes against the grain of other Grice-inspired scholarship. The latter research attempts to describe coherence as a complex interplay between the "formal features" of utterances and the Cooperative Principle that predisposes us to interpret those features, and the utterances that embed them, as contributions to some emergent conversational whole.
At issue, more precisely, is a vast body of (socio)linguistic research suggesting that what accounts for the cohesiveness of a set of utterances constituting a conversation is the ongoing "interactional achievement" (Schegloff) of the discourse participants themselves. (See Deborah Schiffrin's "Conversational Analysis" for an overview of the major arguments and an extensive bibliography.) Discourse coherence, in this view, is the product of communicative negotiations of extraordinary, but describable, complexity and variety. Schiffrin's work on discourse markers, i.e., "sequentially dependent elements which bracket units of talk" (Discourse Markers 31), represents an especially influential refinement of what Grice had originally characterized as the logic of conversation. For Schiffrin, participants in a conversation must perpetually negotiate an always emergent discourse coherence (23), in which discourse markers (e.g., connectives like and, but, and or; markers of cause and result like so and because, etc.) "index an utterance to the local contexts in which utterances are produced and in which they are to be interpreted" (326). Such markers thereby help us situate units of talk in a discourse model--a model that both explains what we do when we talk and that emerges as a result of our conversational negotiations--spanning speech-act, ideational and other communicative structures. Accordingly, "local coherence in discourse is . . . defined as the outcome of joint efforts from interactants to integrate knowing, meaning, saying and doing" (29). More generally, conversational coherence can be redescribed by way of discourse functions fulfilled by a set of utterances through the coordinates they occupy within a particular discourse context--a context those same utterances, together with their formal features, help to create.
As should be evident from even this brief sketch, Grice's ideas about cooperation in discourse acquire a more nuanced, more richly differentiated profile in the work of Schiffrin and other post-Gricean conversation analysts. Arguably, these later developments in the Gricean perspective have helped reattach conversation analysis to the tradition of sociological inquiry from which it originally emerged. (For psycholinguistic extensions of Grice, though, cf. Gordon.) For example, Erving Goffman's early (1955) analysis of what he called the ritual elements of social interaction, and his continued study of the "forms of talk" in this context, set an important precedent not only for Grice's account of conversational cooperation but also for the influential idea of talk as an economy of turns, a systematic allocation of conversational resources (see below, section 4.2). Hence Goffman's insight that "in a conversational encounter, interaction tends to proceed in spurts, an interchange at a time, and the flow of information and business is parcelled out into these relatively closed ritual units" ("Face-Work" 228) directly anticipates Schegloff's argument that the operation of continuers i.e., discourse tokens such as uh huh and of other bits of behavior produced by recipients in the course of, or rather in the enabling of, extended talk or discourse by another, is designed in a detailed way to fit to the ongoing talk by the teller, and "to fit" may involve either "cooperating" with what that talk seems designed to get, or withholding; both of these are fitted to the details of the locally preceding talk, and cannot be properly understood or appreciated when disengaged from it. ("Achievement" 86; see section 4.2)
Conversation-analytic schemes generally, by characterizing discourse as a species of cooperative and interactional behavior, have construed conversational coherence as an inalienably social mode of meaning. For post-Gricean analysts, when we find ourselves in a conversation, what we say and the way we say it are jointly the cause and the result of the particular sociocultural interaction in which we are engaged.(5)
Arguably, the point of Joyce's Mutt and Jute episode is likewise to make us look to ourselves for what we call coherence: of texts, of conversations, of stories. The episode is so designed as to remind us that cohesiveness in discourse derives to some extent from (contexts of) interpretation instead of being wholly given before we start interpreting. Put otherwise, Joyce's text forces us to come to grips with our own guiding assumption that, despite the polysemic profile of their remarks, Mutt and Jute's encounter is in fact a discourse. On the strength of that assumption, the episode unfolds not as a randomly generated sequence of atomistic utterances, but rather as an ordered set of locutions, structured according to dialogic principles at work in discourse at large--although those principles, here, are importantly inflected by the formal (syntactic, lexical, phonetic) innovations characteristic of Finnegans Wake as a whole. Joyce's suggestion, like Grice's, is that we create discourse out of a vast, in principle infinite assemblage of linguistic and encyclopedic elements, and that the threshold at which we label any given discourse as incoherent is in part a function of particular communicative contexts.
Indeed, by adopting Gricean perspectives on Mutt and Jute, we can at the same time work toward a Joycean outlook on Grice; the episode can help us grasp the larger implications of conversational analysis itself. Both the theoretical project of conversational analysis and literary dialogues such as Joyce's compel us to recognize the force of that presumption of coherence which we bring to the utterances comprised by texts, discourses, conversations. To that extent, both conversational-analytic schemata and texts like the Mutt and Jute episode are metacommunicative in nature: they are so designed as to make us redescribe, as explicitly as possible, what it is that we do when we communicate, and hence their design helps us communicate better. The latter claim will no doubt be viewed as more or less controversial, given the non-, even anti-communicative impetus sometimes ascribed by Joyceans to Finnegans Wake.
2. CRITICAL CONTEXTS
Up to now, commentators on Finnegans Wake have typically adopted two sorts of interpretive strategies in discussing the Mutt and Jute episode. On the one hand, scholars like Bernard Benstock, Kimberly Devlin and William York Tindall have assimilated Mutt and Jute to the other paired males who figure at various points in the book--most notably, Muta and Juva in Chapter 17--and whose Wakean archetype is of course the Shem-Shaun polarity.(6) On the other hand, the dialogue between Mutt and Jute has been viewed as a non-, even anti-communicative situation in which language regresses into unintelligibility by way of its prehistoric and precolonial past. Thus John Bishop characterizes Mutt and Jute as figures "who babble and stammer imperceptively like Vico's men" (194): those "mute primitives" of Vico's divine age that "like so many Mutts and Jutes . . . communicate by grunts, gestures, hieroglyphs, coats of arms, and fables" (Tindall 9). Tindall for his part suggests that " communication between Mutt and Jute, Irishman and invader, proves impossible, for one is 'jeffmute' and the other hardly 'haudibble'" (43).
Here, however, I wish to make a case both for the specificity of the episode and for the communicative impetus of Mutt and Jute's remarks. In the first place, the episode acquires special significance by being placed near the opening of the Wake; the dialogue functions in effect as a paradigm for understanding other communicative acts embedded in the text as well as the global discourse situation corresponding to Finnegans Wake as a whole.(7) Along the same lines, I would urge that Joyce confers prehistoric attributes on Mutt and Jute(8) just because their talk is in a sense an archeology of human communication: an investigation of the conditions under which discourse has become possible, both in the history of the species at large and in the context of the Wake itself. Furthermore, the passages that frame their encounter suggest why we should resist designating Mutt and Jute as mere speakers of gobbledygook. Immediately before the dialogue we read that "The babbelers with their than gas vain have been (confusium hold them!) they were and went" (15.13- 14); immediately after, we read, in quasi-telegrammatic parlance, of "curios of signs (please stoop) in this allaphbed" (18.17-18), such that "When a part so ptee does duty for the holos we soon grow to use of an allforabit" (18.36-19.2). Along Joyce's evolutionary continuum, then, Mutt and Jute's interchange lies somewhere between a properly babelian confusion of tongues, and the telecommunicational technologies made possible by the advent of alphabets.
In this connection, note that Mutt and Jute are represented as participating in "that basic face-to-face conversational context in which all humans acquire language" (Levinson 63) and which John Lyons has termed the "canonical situation of utterance": "this involves one-one, or one- many, signalling in the phonic medium along the vocal-auditory channel, with all the participants present in the actual situation able to see one another and to perceive the associated non-vocal paralinguistic features of their utterances, and each assuming the role of sender and receiver in turn" (qtd. in Levinson 63). But we should keep in mind that Mutt and Jute's canonical situation of utterance is represented through the medium of written discourse. Again, the text concerns itself, metacommunicatively, with the modes and principles of communication. As Traugott and Pratt remark (Linguistics 45), Finnegans Wake is a text that persistently exploits the gap between spoken and written discourse, preserving in its verbal texture a sort of iconic heritage of earlier forms of English (as well as forms deriving from other languages), and punning off homonyms, in ways that spoken discourse does not permit. Indeed, Joyce's pun "abcedminded" (18.17) iconically and phonetically connotes a post-alphabetic orientation (and the "absentmindedness" or nonimmediacy of which written discourse is perhaps both symptom and cause); but it also incorporates the Old English word for alphabet itself (abecede). What could be termed the global creolization of Joyce's discourse--elements of some forty different languages pass through a text in which English is an only fitfully "superstrate" or dominant language (cf. Traugott and Pratt, Linguistics 363ff.)--further attests to Joyce's exploitation of the richer iconicity and greater manipulatability of written as opposed to spoken language (Biber 101-49). Mutt, his own name indicating a highly creolized identity, suggests that the episode itself attempts to come to terms with the evolutionary trend stretching from orality to literacy. As Mutt notes, the spread of written discourse marks not the death but rather the memorialization of oral culture, a "sound seemetery" (17.35) in which written words are inscribed with the ancient legacy of speech.
My larger point, however, is that we should treat Joyce's episode as an archeology of intelligible discourse that does not wholly exempt itself from the commitment to intelligibility. Granted, Mutt and Jute's is not exactly a logical conversation. But my argument is that, in trying to make sense of the episode, we nevertheless operate under the assumption that their exchange does manifest a logic of conversation. Our grounds for making that assumption; the force of the assumption itself, however nonobvious the topics and themes addressed by Mutt and Jute; and what the conversational mechanisms of the episode have to tell us about the assumptions we apply to conversations in general: these are I think the sorts of concerns on which Grice-inspired theories can fruitfully be brought to bear.
3. FORM, CONTEXT, AND MEANING
In this connection, perhaps the easiest way to discuss the Gricean outlook and to indicate its usefulness for an analysis of Joyce's text is to point to the distinction linguists often make between sentences and utterances and between semantics and pragmatics as the grammatical domains pertaining to sentences and utterances, respectively (see Brown and Yule 19-26, Fasold 119ff., Gazdar 89ff., Levinson 18-21, and Prince 166-67, for background on and justifications of this distinction; but see, too, the entry on "Discourse" in the International Encyclopedia of Linguistics 366 for a discussion of how the "concept of grammar as emergent suspends provision for fixed structure," thereby casting doubt on the saliency of the sentence/utterance distinction itself). Semantics is commonly defined as just that part of grammatical theory that is concerned with the study of the truth-conditional meaning of sentences. By contrast, pragmatics can be defined as "the study of the use of context to make inferences about meaning" (Fasold 119). Pragmatics is thus that part of grammatical theory concerned with meanings that attach to sentences not through their semantic content but rather through the contexts in which the sentences are uttered, or more precisely the discourse situations in which sentences are issued as utterances. For example, given sentence (S)
(S) Louisa's cat is aloof but clean
a particular set of truth conditions holding for (S) allows us to grasp the
semantic content, the truth-conditional meaning, of the sentence. Louisa's cat
must be both clean and aloof--i.e., both conjuncts contained in the sentence
must be true--in order for (S) to be true. If the cat is aloof and dirty, or
friendly and clean, or friendly and dirty, then (S) is false. Schematically,
and to invoke the truth-table for "(Louisa's cat is) p & q," we can represent
the truth-conditions of (S) as follows:
|T||T||(The cat is) aloof (but) clean||true sentence|
|T||F||aloof dirty||false sentence|
|F||T||friendly clean||false sentence|
|F||F||friendly dirty||false sentence|
But consider a discourse situation in which speaker B happens to utter sentence (S) in response to the prior utterance of sentence (S') by speaker A:
Speaker A: (S') I like dogs because they're friendly
Speaker B: (S) Louisa's cat is aloof but clean
Here the meaning of (S) cannot simply be reduced to its semantic content: what B's utterance of (S) is doing in the discourse situation cannot be described solely via the truth-conditional meaning of (S). Rather, (S) takes on an additional pragmatic meaning in the context of the larger discourse situation in which it occurs. (S) carries the implication, namely, that B objects to dogs' dirtiness, however friendly they might be, and ceteris paribus prefers the neat self-sufficiency of cats to the sloppy gregariousness of dogs. By extension, pragmatics is the study of just that aspect of linguistic competence which permits us to register, and furthermore to calculate or explain, all those features of (S) such that (S) functions as a relevant and meaningful response to an interlocutor's utterance of (S') even though nothing about the semantic content of (S) per se tells us why the sentence can perform the discourse functions it does in the context at issue.
In general, conversation-analytic theories inspired by Grice are designed to explain just this pragmatic relation between linguistic contexts and linguistic meanings. Thus, when speaker B says "Louisa's cat is aloof but clean" after hearing speaker A say "I like dogs because they're friendly," speaker A assumes that speaker B has made a nonrandom rejoinder. That in essence is Grice's Cooperative Principle. The principle is meant to explain why A attempts to elicit the implied meaning of (or draw a "conversational implicature" from) B's remark instead of assuming, precipitously, that what B has said is only randomly related to the discourse context at hand and is therefore incapable of being interpreted as a meaningful utterance. Again, we see that for Griceans what we think of as the cohesiveness of two or more contiguous statements--such that those statements constitute discourses or conversations--derives from certain assumptions we make about what roles the statements are performing in certain interpretive contexts, together with the grammatical forms those statements assume. As Brown and Yule put it, "in addition to our knowledge of sentential structure, we also have a knowledge of other standard formats in which information is conveyed. We also rely on some principle that, although there may be no formal linguistic links connecting contiguous linguistic strings, the fact of their contiguity leads us to interpret them as connected" (224). The principle at issue, described by Grice as essentially cooperative in nature, is, as Grice himself suggests, an essential ingredient of what we more or less vaguely call "rationality" (Studies 28).
In any event, equipped with these basic Gricean motifs--in particular, the interdependence of coherence and context--we can now return to the conversational mechanisms set into play by Mutt and Jute. More specifically, the episode can be viewed as an extended meditation on how coherence is not a primitive feature of discourse; cohesiveness in discourse is, as the episode suggests, the result of contextualizing operations triggered but not wholly determined by the things we say to one another. It is not just that, by multiplying interpretive contexts for Mutt and Jute's remarks, Joyce's text broadens what Gumperz has called those "culturally possible lines of reasoning" (160) along which our conversations evolve. Joyce's suggestion, furthermore, is that by framing communicative acts centered on the act of communication itself, cultures can increase the scope of what those cultures view as coherent, as reasonable. In short, metacommunicative texts like Joyce's participate in what I have elsewhere described as an ongoing rapprochement between "universal grammar and narrative form": a more or less explicit and recoverable conceptual affiliation between language theory and literary experimentation.
4. DIMENSIONS OF (JOYCEAN) DISCOURSE
Note that, from the start, Mutt and Jute's is a conversation about conversations. Among the topics of their discourse are strategies and procedures for establishing discourse topics. Thus, to adopt for a moment not Gricean but rather Jakobsonian terminology, Mutt and Jute's opening remarks perform both metalingual and phatic functions: the interlocutors check up both on the code to be used for communication and on the physical (in this case, auditory) channel conducting messages from addressor to addressee.(9) Mutt's first concern is to determine what language Jute speaks: "You tollerday donsk? N. You tolkatiff scowegian? Nn. You spigotty anglease? Nnn. You phonio saxo? Nnnn. Clear all so! 'Tis a Jute" (16.5- 8).(10) In turn, Jute seeks to confirm whether Mutt is in fact receiving the messages made possible by their mutually stipulated code, and whether he himself will be able to receive Mutt's messages:
Jute.--Are you jeff?
Jute.--But you are not jeffmute?
Mutt.--Noho. Only an utterer.
Jute.--Whoa? Whoat is the mutter with you?
Mutt.--I became a stun a stummer.
Jute.--What a hauhauhauhaudibble thing, to be cause! (16.12-18)
A few lines later Jute conducts another phatic check-up: "You that side of your voise are almost inedible to me" (16.23). In general, we experience the episode as a read that is also a Rede: in German, a speech or a conversation. The text itself represents the activity of reading as a version of more broadly conversational activity: "(Stoop) if you are abcedminded, to this claybook. . . . Can you rede (since We and Thou had it out already) its world?" (18.17-19). Writing likewise figures as a form of conversational practice: "He who runes may rede it on all fours" (18.6- 7).
Besides including conversation as one of its privileged themes, however, the episode as a literary dialogue also enacts techniques for conversing. As we might also put it, the text is a record of a hypothetical discourse situation, one whose formal peculiarities force us to reevaluate our conversational models and stereotypes. As Schiffrin puts it, "Conversations in literary discourse . . . are less representative of actual language use than of models of communicative competence"; conversations like the one contained in the Mutt and Jute episode are "idealized representations of what a conversation should be like" ("Intersubjectivity" 131). I would emend the latter part of Schiffrin's formulation, however, such that it reads "idealized representations of what a conversation should, might, or could conceivably be like." In other words, metacommunicative texts like Joyce's hold up a range of conversational methods and models for display, encouraging reflection on the whole gamut of interpretive principles comprised by what we call communicative competence.
In this connection, I should like to invoke several descriptive categories currently used by post-Gricean language theorists in their efforts to capture our intuitions about what counts as a coherent conversation. The categories at issue are turn-taking procedures, adjacency pairs, and topic boundaries. (For criticisms of the descriptive, let alone explanatory, adequacy of these and other conversation-analytic categories, however, see Searle, "Conversation.") Using these categories as descriptive guidelines, we can start to see what Mutt and Jute's conversation suggests about discourse, and the study of discourse, in general.
Consider the so-called adjacency pairs, or paired utterances issued by alternating speakers, "of which question-answer, greeting-greeting, offer-acceptance, apology-minimization of the offense, etc., are prototypical" (Levinson 303). As Harvey Sacks, Emmaneul A. Schegloff, and Gail Jefferson put it in their seminal essay on "A Simplest Systematics for the Organization of Turn-Taking for Conversation,"
By contrast with ceremonies, debates, and other such speech exchange systems, the turn-taking organization for conversation makes no provision for the content of any conversational turn or "move", nor does it constrain what is (to be) done in any turn. . . . But this is not to say that there are no constraints; on what may be done in any turn. . . The non-fixedness of what parties say should be modified by noting a bias operative in it. The group of allocation techniques which we have called "current speaker selects next" cannot be used in just any utterance or utterance-type whatever. Rather, there is a set of utterance-types, adjacency pair first parts, that can be used to accomplish such a selection; and with the constraint to employ one of those, there are constraints on what a party can say. (710-11)
Here we should note, first, that Joyce's use of the Mutt and Jeff comic strip as an intertext for the episode creates a generic expectation of discourse in which adjacency pairs will play an important role, given that Mutt and Jeff were themselves cartoon versions of vaudeville comic teams trading remarks on stage.(11) Indeed, much of the humor of Bud Fisher's comic strip derived from Mutt and Jeff's attempts to get the better of one another in argument and in practical jokes. (In one instance, Jeff's wise-guy antics cause Mutt to be burned, and suffer excruciating pain, via a barber's steaming hot towel.) Thus Joyce's allusion to the strip creates a context for the "verbal dueling," or "competitive use of language in focused interaction" (McDowell 203; cf. Labov; Longacre 43ff.), that is one of the hallmarks of an episode in which the discourse participants "excheck a few strong verbs weak oach eather yapyazzard abast the blooty creeks" (16.8-9). Mutt and Jeff's is in other words a discourse genre premised on interpersonal conflict (Bavelas et al); it stages what Schiffrin calls "oppositional argument," or "an interaction in which an opposition between speakers creates an extended polarization that is negotiated through a conversation," versus "rhetorical argument," or "a discourse through which a speaker justifies a disputable position" ("Argument" 41).(12) Instantiating a sort of conversational stereotype, operative across both the productions of popular culture and avant-garde literary texts, the comic strip guides our interpretation of Mutt and Jute's discourse. The stereotype helps us comprehend the quasi-ritualistic exchange of what we recognize as more or less confrontational questions ("Are you jeff?"; "somehards" 16.12-13) and evaluations ("Pride, O pride, thy prize!"; "Stench!" 17.30-31). Indeed, Joyce's text suggests that even what we might take to be as it were conversational primitives--elements of conflict, dispute, banter and invective--are rather patterns in discourse that prior modes teach us to recognize and also perpetuate. We read the episode as a dispute both because of its form and because of our sense that stretches of discourse cast in that form typically signify dispute.
But what about the adjacency pairs that form the minimal units, as it were, of such ritualized or quasi-ritualized abuse, which in turn forms only part of the conversational frame embedding Mutt and Jute's individual utterances? Having prepared us for the entrance of "this carl [i.e., Jute] on the kopje in pelted thongs" (15.29)--and "What a quhare soort of mahan" he is (16.1)(13)--Mutt likewise sets up the greeting-greeting adjacency pair that initiates their discourse:
Mutt.-- Mukk's pleasurad. (16.10-11)
Here, our expectation that a greeting follows a greeting, both in vaudeville and in discourse at large, allows us to negotiate the lexical and phonetic peculiarities of the passage. More precisely, the format of the initial exchange triggers, but does not fully account for, our reading of Mutt and Jute's first, semi-garbled remarks as a salutation. What accounts for that reading are our own assumptions about the format of greetings. The same penchant for pattern recognition enables us to identify, and interpret, a number of question-answer adjacency pairs also featured in the episode. After Mutt informs Jute that he "became a stun a stummer" (16.17), Jute respond s by asking, "How, Mutt?" (16.18-19).
Mutt.--Aput the buttle, surd.
Jute.--Whose poddle? Wherein?
Mutt.-- The Inns of Dungtarf where Used awe to be he.(16.23)
The reason it would be very difficult to program a computer to read these highly atypical linguistic strings as genuine questions and answers, and why we by contrast make sense of them in just those terms, is that we approach the passage with what might be called a presumption of coherence (a.k.a. the Cooperative Principle). That presumption allows us to delimit relevant contextual information; in the case at hand, we hypothesize that Mutt is blaming his being a "stummer" or stammerer on his fancy for the bottle, but not on butts, puddles, paddles, pods, or poodles. After all, it would place unusually severe demands on our background knowledge and powers of inference to arrive at a viable causal link between, for example, small obnoxious dogs and a speech disorder.
Yet--and this is the crucial point--at the same time that Joyce's text reinforces the necessity of making the presumption of coherence in interpreting Mutt and Jute's discourse, the episode also compels us to examine that presumption's force and scope. Given the lexical profile of the lines just quoted, we can only tentatively, not absolutely, exclude butts, poodles, and puddles from the set consisting of likely reasons for Mutt's stammering. Likewise, when Jute asks "Wid wad for a norse like?" and Mutt replies "Somular with a bull on a clomp-turf" (17.8-9), we are prone to draw on contextual information (once we have it at our disposal) about both the Duke of Wellington and Brian Boru's victory at Clontarf. On the basis of such information conjoined with Mutt's remark, we draw the implicature that Mutt construes Wellington and Brian as historical and conceptual analogues, as "somular." But Joyce's text also encourages us to second-guess that very implicature; the text only partly prompts us to foreground Wellington and Brian over other, only partly virtualized contexts for interpretation, including whatever has to do with wads, clumps, norsemen, and somnolence. In general, the text suggests how adjacency pairs--arguably among the most common conversational patterns of all--are not simply built into discourse. Such patterns, rather, are something we construct, and cannot help but construct, through discourse.
By compelling us to interpret as adjacency pairs a series of stichomythic utterances whose semantic relationships are at best highly mediated, the episode illuminates just those constraints on conversational turns which Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson describe. In proportion as the genre of speech-exchange we call conversation relaxes constraints on the contents of individual turns ("Simplest Systematics" 711), conversation comes to depend on the formatting or organization of turns for its functioning and coherence, such that "Turn-taking organization at least partially controls the understanding of utterances" (728; but see below, section 4.2). Likewise Joyce's nonstandard adjacency pairs--his use of discourse tokens that we find it difficult to subsume under paired utterance types--suggests not that the organization of discourse is a mere reflection of its meaning, but rather that meaning and organization in discourse are crucially interdependent with meaning (and coherence) being a function of organization and vice versa. But what, exactly, is the nature of this interdependence between the structures and functions of discourse elements?
As was indicated in the previous section, adjacency pairs are just part of a larger system for the allotment of conversational moves or "turns." Collectively, and under the auspices of Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson's "Simplest Systematics," these techniques for allocating the resources of talk have been called turn-taking procedures: procedures, that is, for the apportionment of conversations into turns that are divided up among different participants. Thus, "one way of looking at the rules for talk is as a sharing device, an 'economy' operating over a scarce resource, namely control of the 'floor.' Such an allocational system will require minimal units (or 'shares') over which it will operate, such units being the units from which turns at talk are constructed" (Levinson 297). Classically conceived, "the turn-taking organization of conversation . . . obliges its participants to display to each other, in a turn's talk, their understanding of other turns' talk. . . A turn's talk will be heard as directed to a prior turn's talk, unless special techniques are used to locate some other talk to which it is directed" ("Simplest Systematics" 728). Turn-taking, one might venture, is just a name for what people who are talking to one another do when they intuit that it is time for one person to stop talking and another to begin. But consider the following set of turns taken by Mutt and Jute at the very end of their encounter:
Mutt.-- O'c'stle, n'wc'stle, tr'c'stle, crumbling! Sell me sooth the fare for Humblin! Humblady Fair. But speak it allsosiftly, moulder! Be in your whisht!
Mutt.-- The gyant Forficules with Amni the fay.
Mutt.-- Here is viceking's graab.
Mutt.-- Ore you astoneaged, jute you?
Jute.-- Oye am thonthorstrok, thing mud.(18.6-16)
Some of these turns form question-answer adjacency pairs of the sort discussed in section 4.1. What I wish to focus on more particularly, however, is Joyce's use of typographical cues specific to dialogue. Without the typographical cues(14)--including punctuation, line-breaks, and of course the name affixed to each utterance--we would be hard-pressed to identify Mutt and Jute's contributions as turns at all. Prima facie it is hard to determine in what sense the two interlocutors are taking turns, what joint conversational purpose their individual utterances might be working toward. But the presence of conversational cues in the text prompts us to model, at least hypothetically, a discourse situation that spans an unusually rich semantic domain over the course of an unusually small number of conversational moves. Mutt and Jute pass from Dublin's heraldic designs, to earwigs, to the ancient Norse parliament in Ireland, to the Danish word for what (hvad), and so on. A turn, in this context, does the work that an entire lecture on escutcheonry or bugs or history would do in another context. As we might also put it, Joyce's text again courts our presumption of coherence--in this case, our assumption that Mutt and Jute's discourse unfolds as a series of nonrandomly generated turns--but at the same time it invites us to imagine a discourse consisting of turns that themselves have the informational content of whole discourses. Reading the episode reminds us that, although we invariably structure conversations into turns--or interpret them as being so structured--nonetheless the scope or richness of what counts as a turn will vary across different contexts.
Two issues, then, present themselves here: first, Joyce's use of typographical cues to signal that the episode in fact comprises a system of speech-exchange; and second, Joyce's emphasis on what we might call the functional overdetermination of individual turns: on the way turns could in principle always do more in a discourse than (strictly speaking) the economy of speech allocation permits. Note that these two features of Joyce's text work against each other. Through the inquits (i.e., the attributions of speech now to Mutt, now to Jute), punctuation, and other typographical cues we get a discontinuous chunking, as it were, of discourse that is always reasserting its continuousness, its polyfunctionality, its intractability vis-a-vis the economy of talk set up by a system of speech-exchange divided into alternating turns. Interestingly, for internal reasons the classical model of turn-taking procedures lacks the conceptual resources for handling what can be called the semantic density or functional overdetermination of individual turns: since the focus of Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson's "Simplest Systematics" is on the contribution of turn-taking to our comprehension of an ongoing discourse, their analysis minimizes the importance of content per se relative to conversational coherence.(15) Joyce's text, by contrast, suggests that the organization of discourse into turns--the economy of talk--always operates within or against another economy that can be called "informational." The presumption of coherence that delimits what contextual information we take into account when designing or interpreting a turn and that disposes us to view a chunk of discourse as a turn in the first place has a "cost" that can be measured in terms of the relative redundance or obviousness of our talk. To put the matter another way, and as Grice himself recognized, certain of the conversational maxims required by the Cooperative Principle may at certain times conflict with other maxims also required by that same Principle (Grice 26-30), so that in the interest of orderliness of presentation, for example, we may on occasion have to sacrifice informativeness of content.
My point is that Joyce's text enacts the tension between these two competing economies of talk--call them the economies of cohesiveness and of informativeness--precisely by compelling us to interpret a sequence of nonobviously related utterances as turns comprised by an ongoing conversation. Of course, other dialogues contained in the book (for example, the washerwomen's conversation in the "Anna Livia Plurabelle" chapter 196ff.) also contain utterances that are difficult to characterize as conversational turns but that we must nonetheless interpret as elements of a system of speech-exchange. Yet in the Mutt and Jute episode Joyce's use of the typographical cues already mentioned highlight, with special force, the tension between cohesiveness and informativeness in which and by means of which all talk unfolds. (Once more, the placement of the Mutt and Jute episode near the beginning of the Wake is of crucial importance in this connection.) Joyce's ordered alternation of semantically saturated turns--a stichomythic pattern enforced and regulated by the inquits and other cues--again serves a metacommunicative purpose. Specifically, the episode reminds us that the system of speech-exchange is, as the authors of a "Simplest Systemaries" put it, a "local management system" that is also an "interactionally managed system," subjecting the variability of the size and order of turns "to the control of the parties to any conversation" (725-26). What makes for conversational coherence will vary with the informational needs of specific participants during specific stretches of talk; conversely, a (segment of) discourse will be more or less informative according to the success of particular discussants at achieving and maintaining cohesiveness across a particular string of utterances. Analogously, the format of the Mutt and Jute episode suggests that whereas the semantic density of any given conversational turn is in principle infinite, that density or richness is pragmatically constrained by the presumption of coherence that here manifests itself typographically in the text.
Indeed, the sometimes encyclopedic profile of Mutt and Jute's remarks points to another important conversational phenomenon: namely, the way we talk about certain topics, and moreover manage topic-shifts, when we are conversing. At issue here is just what Mutt and Jute are talking about, at any given point in their discourse, and also how they move on, together, from that to a different topic or to a different dimension of the current topic. There is of course a vast body of research on the problem of topic, including any number of attempts to analyze sentences and discourses into topics and comments, or themes and rhemes, or presuppositions and focuses.(16) Van Dijk, for example, defines topic (and the related notions episode, theme, and gist) as a "global macroproposition" under which a sequence of subpropositions are subsumed in a way that makes them jointly cohesive ("Episodes" 180). By contrast, Blakemore, working in the Gricean versus the text-grammatical tradition, suggests that accounts like van Dijk's fail to recognize "the context dependence of the relations which contribute toward the macro-structure of the text" (234). As a good Gricean, Blakemore is careful to insist that "context is involved in the recognition of the entailment relations in terms of which the topic of discourse is defined" (234).(17) The point is, though, that we can, generally speaking, "distinguish within a sentence for example a part which is somehow 'given,' or 'known,' or 'assumed,' and a part which is commenting on the first part" (van Dijk, Some Aspects 109). Furthermore, "between two contiguous pieces of discourse which are intuitively considered to have two different 'topics'" on which we find ourselves commenting, "there should be a point at which the shift from one topic to the next is marked" (Brown and Yule 94-95).
One way to account for the notorious difficulty of Finnegans Wake is to say that its design hinders any ready assortment of its discourse components into topics and comments; the text's most abiding topic, in a sense, is that the way we talk about things determines what we are talking about. Take, for example, this segment of Mutt and Jute's exchange:
Mutt.--Has? Has at? Hasatency? Urp, Boohooru! Booru Usurp! I trumple from rath in mine mines when I rimimirim!
Jute.--One eyegonblack. Bisons is bisons. Let me fore all your hasitancy cross your qualm with trink gilt. Here have sylvan coyne, a piece of oak. Ghinees hies good for you.
Mutt.--Louee, louee! How wooden I not know it, the intellible greytcloak of Cedric Silkyshag! (16.26-34)
We can perhaps glimpse topics, or at least fragments of topics, in the coded references to Brian Boru ("Boohooru! Booru Usurp!"); to the slogan used to advertise Guinness ale ("Ghinees hies good for you," or "Guinness is good for you"); and to the wooden nickels introduced by the British, in the eighteenth century, in an effort to debase the currency of the Irish ("sylvan coyne, a piece of oak"). But Joyce's text frustrates our attempt to divide the discourse into exactly what Mutt and Jute are saying, on the one hand, and exactly what they are saying about those discourse topics, on the other hand.
Again, however, Joyce's inclusion Of Mutt and Jute's dialogue at the start of the book suggests the need not for abandoning, but rather for reconsidering, the topic-comment distinction and the notion of topic- shift. Mutt and Jute's is a dialogue that models our own dialogic interaction with the Wake: in each case the participants can only partly delimit current discourse topics from other concerns with at least some bearing on the current topics; in each case, too, we cannot be absolutely sure where previous topics end and new ones begin. But there is considerable evidence for the view that all verbal interaction occurs under such constraints: that we can never be completely certain what we are talking about with one another, nor when we have stopped talking about that and started talking about something else. Joyce's text helps us model an understanding of discourse topics as always only emergent constructs interactively elaborated--not chunks of essential information underlying secondary and derivative remarks, but rather constantly renegotiated agreements concerning which remarks are to function as expansions, modifications, negations, etc., of other remarks in the context of a given discourse. By making it hard to figure out just what Mutt and Jute are saying to one another when (and why), Joyce's text suggests that we cannot and should not hope to recover communicative content through a simple algorithm assorting sets of utterances into topics and comments. Instead, we should work towards an understanding of the contextual parameters that determine which elements of communicative content are likely to function, in a given discourse situation, as topics or as comments. Thus the episode helps us model, through a particular (if hypothetical) discourse situation, an understanding of topics that Levinson describes thus:
Topical coherence cannot be thought of as residing in some independently calculable procedure for ascertaining (for example) shared reference across utterances. Rather, topical coherence is something constructed across turns by the collaboration of participants. What needs then to be studied is how potential topics are introduced and collaboratively ratified, how they are marked as "new," "touched off," "misplaced" and so on, how they are avoided or competed over and how they are collaboratively closed down. (315)
More generally, rather than comprising an assault on conversational coherence as such, Joyce's text is metacommunicative through and through, reminding us of the complexity and sophistication of the skills we use all the time in collaborating on conversations. What I have argued to be the metacommunicative impetus of Joyce's text, furthermore, gives point to the more or less maddening circumlocutions of which episodes like Mutt and Jute consist. The format of the text stigmatizes the search for pure communicative content--meaning without context, information without processing--as nostalgia for what never was. But should we draw the further inference that the Mutt and Jute episode is symptomatic of Joyce's ongoing effort to dismantle, from within language, our most entrenched ideas about the communicative functions of language? I prefer to say, rather, that by making us talk about the contexts in which we talk, the episode enriches our conception of what discourse can be and do.
1 For critiques of Pratt's earlier work on its own terms, see Pratt, "Ideology" and Herman, "Pragmatics." An important precedent for my analysis--though it predates both Grice's and Pratt's work--is Mukaovsk's "Two Studies of Dialogue." A number of later studies falling under the rubric of poetics are relevant to the analysis offered here; these studies include Fowler's chapter on dialogue in Linguistic Criticism, Leith's study of ballad dialogue, Short's examination of speech presentation in the novel, and Wales's essay on dialogue and the dialogic. See, too, chapter 6, "Speech Acts and Speech Genres," of Traugott and Pratt's Linguistics for Students of Literature and Herman, "Towards a Pragmatics."
2 Mutt and Jute's dialogue spans pages 16-18 of the text; more precisely, and to conform to the standard citational practice of providing both page and line numbers for references to the Wake, the interchange runs from 16.10 to 18.16. According to Hayman (142), Joyce drafted part I, chapter 1 (and thus the Mutt and Jute episode) of Finnegans Wake in September of 1926.
3 A few terminological points should be noted. Following Brown and Yule's stipulation in Discourse Analysis, by "text" I mean "the verbal record of a communicative act" (6). Further, I follow Schiffrin in distinguishing between "discourse" ("any unit of language beyond the sentence") and "conversation" ("any discourse which is produced by more than one person"); but for the purposes of my analysis I do not wish to restrict "conversation" to "just spoken dialogue." Here, "conversation" as well as "discourse" will cover "either spoken or written modes" of communication ("Conversation Analysis" 253), since I shall be arguing for the applicability of conversation-analytic ideas and methods to the literary representation of a conversation in Finnegans Wake. To avoid monotony, I shall sometimes use "text" and "discourse" where the context sufficiently indicates (I hope) that strictly speaking I am referring to "conversation."
4 As Pratt notes, "Grice adopts the general term implicature to refer to the various kinds of calculations by which we make sense of what we hear" (Towards 154; see 154-200).
5 Note that, in this connection, a number of theorists have argued that we need to discriminate between what Ellen Prince calls broadly "interactive competence" and what she terms "pragmatic linguistic competence" (167; cf. Schiffrin, "Conversational Analysis" 256ff.; Blakemore 230-31). Presumably, not all of the interpretive skills we bring to bear on conversational interaction and negotiation involve knowledge of the way context licenses particular interpretations of utterances cast in particular grammatical forms. If I see you yawning, robbing your eyes and looking at your watch as I rehearse for you the argument of my paper and then infer that you do not want to be subjected to my views at the present moment, I may be displaying some sort of interactive competence, but I am certainly not displaying pragmatic linguistic competence. "The difficulty for conversational analysts," as Schiffrin puts it, "is to integrate the contribution which language makes with the contribution of non-linguistic social processes" ("Conversation Analysis" 252).
6 Devlin characterizes Mutt and Jute as members of the same (very large) set of self/other dichotomies in the Wake "that are undermined by clues suggesting that self and other are similar, interconnected" (38; cf. 36, 39ff. and Eckley 182). Benstock, too, notes that
The Brunoesque opposites that appear and re-appear throughout the Wake are usually identified with the antagonistic sons of H. C. Earwicker; the range of their diversity can be seen in a listing of the most important variations: Shem and Shaun, Caddy and Primas, Jerry and Kevin, Dolph and Kev, Mick and Nick, Glugg and Chuff, Butt and Taff, Mutt and Jute, Muta and Juva, St. Patrick and the Archdruid, Tristopher and Hilary, Fester King and Pegger Festy, the Mookse and the Gripes, the Ondt and the Gracehoper, Burrus and Caseous, Justius and Mercius, time and space, a tree and a stone, etc. (26)
Other scholars interpret Mutt and Jute as the incarnation of still other literary teams. Following Tindall, who describes the Mutt and Jute episode as " the first of many recurrent conflicts between ear and eye or time and space or stick and stone (Shem as ear-time-tree and Shaun as eye-space-stone), this conflict comes, like all the rest, to nothing" (43), Begnal links Mutt and Jeff, Joyce's "comic strip invaders" (78), with Vladimir and Estragon in Beckett's Waiting for Godot (24), who also "swop hats" (16.8). Glasheen, finally, suggests that Mutt and Jute's "meeting is based partly on the meeting of Caliban and Stephano-Trinculo in The Tempest, partly on the meeting of Polyphemous and Ulysses" (202).
7 Cf. Hayman in this connection: "Chapter 1.1 functioned from the start as an overture chapter, brilliantly, though hardly transparently, synthesizing all the book's major themes and conflicts. . . . Joyce established . . . several new structural systems: see inter alia the encounter dialogues initiated by the Mutt and Jute passage. . . . The chapter reflects a dual valence, consolidation and prefiguration" (13).
8 As Bishop puts it, "reconstructing the return of its 'retrospectable fearfurther' (288, n7) to the condition of Vico's aboriginal men, the first chapter of the Wake is densely clustered with images of giants and 'astoneaged' cave men (18.15)--Neanderthal men (18.22, 19.25), Cromagnon men (20.7), Heidelberg men (18.23), Mousterian men (15.33), Piltdown men (10.30), and the paleolithic characters 'Mutt and Jute'" (194; cf Hayman 38-40). In the same connection, see Atherton (218-20) on the (ancient) Nordic elements of the episode.
9 For Jakobson, " whenever the addresser and/or the addressee need to check up whether they use the same code, speech is focused on the code: it performs a metalingual (i.e., glossing) function" (356). By contrast, " there are messages primarily serving to establish, to prolong, or to discontinue communication, to check whether the channel works . . ., to attract the attention of the interlocutor to confirm his continued attention. . . . This set for contact, or in Malinowski's terms phatic function, may be displayed by a profuse exchange of ritualized formulas, by entire dialogues with the mere purport of prolonging communication" (355).
10 Cf. the entry for "Anglo-Saxons" in the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, to which Joyce had access: "We need not doubt that the Angli and the Saxons were different nations originally; but from the evidence at our disposal it seems likely that they had practically coalesced in very early times, perhaps even before the invasion" of Britain (2:38).
Under "Jutes" in the same edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, we find this entry: " The third of the Teutonic nations which invaded Britain in the 5th century, called by Bede lutae or luti," and deriving, apparently, from Jutland, which, "though embracing several islands as well as a peninsula, may be said to belong to the continental portion of the kingdom of Denmark" (15:609).
11 As Inge notes, "Bud Fisher's Mutt and Jeff beginning on November 15, 1907 was the first regularly published comic strip" (79), as well as the longest running daily American comic strip (82-84), published as recently as 1971 (Glasheen 202). The strip yielded a number of linguistic innovations, whereby "Mutt and Jeff gained currency as apt names for tall and short couples (Fisher also popularized fall guy, inside stuff, got his goat . . .)" (23).
Inge provides additional information that will be of special interest to readers of Joyce's Ulysses: Mutt and Jeff "had originated in 1907 as a comic strip about an unsuccessful racetrack gambler named A. Mutt, at first designed to provide popular racing trips. It was enormously popular as the first continuously published daily comic strip, and Mutt's name was well known in 1917, even though the title changed to Mutt and Jeff in 1916 to give equal billing to Mutt's partner (in line with its vaudeville team origins)" (42-43). Significantly, when the strip first began (in the San Francisco Chronicle), "Mutt was first presented as a racetrack character with dubious morals, and the comedy grew out of the lifestyle of the shiftless gambler type. . . . However, as Mutt and his pint-sized pal Jeff moved eastward across the country through syndication, the racy was increasingly qualified by the respectable" (Daniels 4).
12 Mukaovsk makes a number of pertinent observations in this connection: "Unlike monologic discourse, which has a single and continuous contexture, several or at least two contextures interpenetrate and alternate in dinlogic discourse. . . . Because the contextures which interpenetrate in this way in a dialogue are different, often even contradictory, sharp semantic reversals occur on the boundaries of the individual replies. The more vivid the dialogue, the shorter the individual reputes, and the more distinct the collision of contextures. Thus arises a special semantic effect for which stylistics has even created a term: stichomythia" (87-88). Indeed, with respect to what Mukaovsk describes as conversational versus "personal" and "situational" types of dialogue, " a pure play of meanings is both its aim and its extreme limit. Its prerequisite is a concentration of attention on the dialogue itself as a chain of semantic reversals" (91).
13 McHugh lists "Angl mahan: bear," but see too the entry for "Brian" in the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica: "Brian (926-1014), king of Ireland, known as Brian Boru, Boroma, or Boroimhe (from boroma, an Irish word for tribute), . . . passed his youth in fighting against the Danes, who were constantly ravaging Munster. . . . In 976 his brother, Mathgamhain or Mahon, . . . was murdered; Brian avenged this deed, became himself king of Munster in 978" (4:515; my emphasis). This information provides part of the interpretive context for Mutt and Jute's later remarks, as I shall go on to discuss.
14 Some of these cues correspond to what, in spoken discourse, we would call "prosodic" features. Cf. Gumperz:
"Prosody" here includes (a) intonation, i.e. pitch levels on individual syllables and their combination into contours; (b) changes in loudness; (c) stress, a perceptual feature generally comprising variations in pitch, loudness and duration; (d) other variations in vowel length; (e) phrasing, including utterance chunking by pausing, accelerations and decelerations within and across utterance chunks; and (f) overall shifts in speech register. These are conceptual conflations of variations in the three basic phonological dimensions of frequency, amplitude and duration. (100)
15 The simplest systematics does concern itself with the size of turns: for example, "the system does not define maximum turn size, while the turn-constructional component does determine minimal turn size" (709; cf. 730). But the authors' emphasis on the inherent flexibility of that genre of speech exchange we call "conversation," versus "ceremony" or "debate," say, necessitates their nonrestrictive characterization of the content of conversational turns: "One aspect of conversation's flexibility is a direct and important consequence of this feature of its turn-taking organization: its turn-taking organization (and thus conversational activity per se) operates independently of various characterizations of what occupies its turns, the 'topic(s)' in them" (710).
16 See the studies collected in Danes as well as Dahl's Topic and Comment for information on these and related conceptual pairs.
17 Actually, Blakemore's essay falls within the post-Gricean tradition of Relevance Theory, which was initiated by Deirdre Wilson and Dan Sperber and which seeks to reduce the number of Gricean conversational maxims to just one, "Be relevant." Wilson and Sperber define relevance in terms of the technical notion of "contextual implications," which are the by-product obtained "when the addition of a proposition to a context modifies the context in a way that goes beyond the mere incrementation of that context with the proposition itself and all its logical implications" (381).
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Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles