A Pragmatic Analysis of Vague Language in English Company Profiles
|School||Guangdong University of Foreign Studies|
|Course||Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics|
|Keywords||vague language online English company profiles Cooperative Principle Relevance Theory pragmatic analysis|
The present study examines vague language employed in online English company profiles from a pragmatic perspective. The study is intended to be a qualitative one. The author collects English profiles from 31 international companies’ websites. Example of vague language from these 31 company profiles are analyzed and explained from the perspectives of Grice’s Cooperative Principle (1975) and Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance Theory (1995) respectively.Online company profile writers use vague language in various ways. In this thesis, the author is only going to discuss the vague presentations of numbers and quantities. Based on Channell (2000) ’s categorization, vague expressions of quantities are grouped into approximating quantities with numbers and approximators, approximating quantities with round numbers and approximating quantities with non-numerical vague quantifiers. The analysis in the present study is going to be conducted upon such categorization.From the perspective of the Cooperative Principle, vague expressions are used as ways to demonstrate the cooperation of the writers: in some cases, they make it possible that the writers observe all conversational maxims at the same time; in other cases they adhere to one maxim by violating another. From the perspective of the Relevance Theory, vague language could save both the writers’ and the readers’ processing effort and still achieve the same cognitive effects. Thus, vague language is more relevant than precise ones under some circumstances.Having found out the three types of vague presentations of quantities and explanations from both the Cooperative Principle and the Relevance Theory, the author will work out the pragmatic functions achieved by using vague language in company profiles. The pragmatic functions are: tailoring the amount of information, making language more persuasive, coping with the lack of information, strengthening the credibility of the company and being emphatic.Vague language is a device often employed by English company profile writers. The pragmatic analysis of such a language phenomenon is needed in linguistic studies.