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M.A. Theses in Linguistics
at the University of North Dakota
Hauser, Barbara 2007
Grice's conversational implicatures revisited: A discourse analysis of reproductive loss in women's talk
In my thesis, Grice’s Conversational Implicature Revisited: A Discourse Analysis
of Reproductive Loss in Women’s Talk, it is my intent to explore the discursive
modalities of reproductive loss narrated by women, who, at different stages of gestation,
have lost one or more children. Rooted in a theoretical framework in discourse analysis,
my thesis seeks to analyze how women, having participated in an interview with a female
interlocutor who lost a child herself, narrate their experiences of reproductive loss.
My hypothesis is that the more personal information about the experience of
reproductive loss the participant is supposed to share, the more often she expects the
female interlocutor to rely on the cooperative principle and the conversational implicature
introduced by Grice. In order to understand the meaning of what is said in this special
form of women’s talk, the female speaker expects or forces the female hearer to refer to
the participants’ mutual knowledge (including scripts, schema, and cultural and gender
concepts), contextual reference of the utterances (linguistic and otherwise), and the
ﬁlling-in of gaps. Having analyzed personal interviews with eight women from my home
country of Switzerland, I further look at the ways in which these women handle and
relate to their experience, which, after all, is still considered a taboo in society, before
raising questions about gender speciﬁc modes of narration.
In other words, personal or intimate questions about the experience of
reproductive loss negatively inﬂuence the ﬂow of speech insofar as it generates, as an
effect of it, a limited presence of crucial semantic elements. I anticipate the results that in
this form of conversation among women, a speaker relies upon a hearer’s cooperative
principle and conversational implicature by mainly providing fragmental information
about the traumatic event.
This thesis is available from the University of North Dakota library .