AWEJ for translation & Literary Studies volume, 1 Number 1, February 2017                 Pp. 171-186

Cooperative Principle and Inferential Chains of Interpretation: Socio-Pragmatic Approach to Language and Literature Teaching

Vijay Singh Thakur

Department of Languages and Translation
College of Arts and Applied Sciences
Dhofar University
Salalah, Sultanate of Oman



Abstract PDF

The author strongly believes in Black’s (2006) remark that Grician Maxims of conversational cooperation have a considerable degree of relevance for the processing of literary discourse on the innermost level of character-to-character interactions (p. 27). In the backdrop of this, this paper aims to demonstrate how analytical dimension of literary studies can be expanded by involving Grice’s (1975) pragmatic stylistic theory of Cooperative Priciple (CP) and explores how the fictional discourses could be better understood by reconstructing inferential chains of interpretation along with various issues of inferences in the dialogic discourses of the characters from Vikram Seth’s magnum opus A Suitable Boy (ASB). The CP contributes to contextualization of the text; provides interpretative possibilities that explain how we draw inferences from conversation; and hints to interpretations of how direct and indirect discourses are manipulated in literary works of fiction. The major findings of this paper suggest that the real value and richness of conversational maxims of Grice lie not in observing but in flouting them and that the major motivation for violating the requirements of these maxims are related to characters’ socio-cultural concerns such as politeness, tact, social power and taboos and also to the inter-personal factors like various cross-purposes, attitudes, personal tensions, conflicts, etc. Arriving at pragmatic meanings through the maxims of CP involves effort and increases engagement with the text; therefore, the author strongly recommends that pragmatic stylistic analysis be frequently included as an important pedagocial activity of studying fictional discourses in the teaching of language and literature.

Cite as:

Thakur, V. S. (2017). Cooperative Principle and Inferential Chains of Interpretation: Socio-Pragmatic Approach to Language and Literature Teaching. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies, 1(1).


Dr. Vijay Singh Thakur is an Associate Professor of English Language and Linguistics in the
Department of Languages and Translation of Dhofar University, Sultanate of Oman. He holds a
doctorate degree in Applied Sociolinguistics. His main publications include: the books Discourse
Analysis of a Novel: Theory and Method and Sociolinguistic Perspectives of Politeness in
Communication and over 25 research papers in the fields of Applied Sociolinguistics, Pragmatic
Discourse Stylistics, Cross-Cultural Pragmatics, and TESOL Pedagogy.