Defense against Speech Acts (Pragmatics and Poetry)

Okay, okay. I won’t get off that easily. Let’s put all that linguistic theory on the backburner and ask a different question: How can you use this in your creative work? What’s this have to do with poetry?

The notion of implicature and speech acts is perhaps important when understanding performance and delivery. These are terms you hear most often in theatre, but they’re important also to poetry reciting and writing true-to-life dialogue.

I’ll be leaving you at a bit of a cliffhanger, but I’ll offer you an activity. I’m putting on a theatre piece I wrote – this weekend, live on Zoom. It’s essentially a dialogue between two people. I invite you to come watch and see what Gricean Maxims of communication are broken. Ask yourself, did the character say something relevant just now? Was there anything weird about how it was said, why it was said?

More information on the play here.

(This blogpost will be updated after February 07th. Come back later!)

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