Grice’s Maxims have been criticised for being too Anglo-centric. Michael Clyne proposes revisions to the four maxims in his 1994 book Intercultural Communication at Work. Do Clyne’s revisions of this model go far enough in universally accounting for intercultural conversation? Why or why not?
Grice’s General Cooperative Principle has been under continuous debate for the past three decades. It is mainly through the maxims that Grice’s paradigm has been challenged as highly ethnocentric, however such readings may tend to take the maxims too literally rather than as “reference points for language interchange” (Allan as cited in Clyne, 1994, p. 11). There is some agreement in this, but as suggested by Mey (1994, p. 74), the principle and…show more content…
In such cases, there is a clash between Grice's maxims and the pragmatic rules of conversation, which are culturally sensitive. For example, when being offered a drink, a typical Chinese person would automatically say no the first time, while expecting the offer to be made at least two or three times more. This resembles a kind of phatic language communication; saying no, but not really meaning no. In this sort of situation, if someone doesn't adhere to the cultural norm – choosing to follow Grice’s maxims instead, then they would sound odd and out of place.
The above example demonstrates that Grice’s maxims aren’t relevant in all contexts as they clash with certain cultural values systems. Many linguists (Clyne, 1994; Hymes, 1986; Loveday, 1983; Walsh, 2009) have picked up on this discrepancy between theory and data, claiming that the maxims are only relevant to the English speaking Western world. In particular, Clyne (1994) has pointed out that they have limited relevance to cultures where content and knowledge are core values. For example, speakers of Malagasy, “whose form of co-operation seems to consist in making their contributions as opaque, convoluted and non-perspicuous as possible” (Keenan as cited in Mey, 1994, p. 74) could be seen as flouting the Maxim of Quantity. This is because information, especially ‘new’ information gives the holder a certain amount of prestige, thus Malagasy people tend to