Dissertation
Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Language teaching > Conversation

A Pragmatic Study on the Indirect Utterances in TOEFL Listening Comprehension

Author WangXiaoChen
Tutor ChenYuHong
School Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords TOEFL listening comprehension communication theory speech acts conversational implicature
CLC H319.9
Type Master's thesis
Year 2005
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Since the indirect conveyance of functional meaning nowadays appears to be a universally spread phenomenon,how to “listen to”the indirect utterances appears to be one of the most crucial barriers that influences students’listening practice. Listening comprehension still remains the most bothering and most difficult task for the majority of students in some colleges and universities nationwide. Since 1960s, both domestic and international scholars have devoted greatly to enormous explorations on how to remove the barriers to listening to indirect languages. However, all the relevant researches only provide some qualitative explanations; they lack systematic statistics and quantitative analysis on the indirect language in listening comprehension, along with the specific suggestions to the learning and teaching of listening comprehension. This thesis, therefore, exerts to investigate the major means that determine the indirect barriers in listening comprehension by analyzing 1050 short conversations in the tested TOEFL listening materials, and then presents the suggestions we can get to help students improve their listening comprehension and communicative skills. For the development of this thesis, the theoretical basis is founded on three major theories: Communication theory, Speech Act Theory and Conversational Implicature Theory. Communication theory interprets the communicative process and communicative basis in listening comprehension, whereas Speech Act and Conversational Implicature present the pragmatic criteria to classify and explain the indirect utterances in listening comprehension. The results show that the indirect utterances in listening comprehension can be divided into two groups: Emotional Group and Informative Group. The criterion of classification lies in two major means concerned with the setting of indirect meaning in listening comprehension: features of spoken utterances and informative discrepancy between words and meanings. The former, from the features of spoken language, involves different emotive feelings in people’s utterances with the special colloquial expression forms and the supplementary aids of various phonetic means. However, the latter can be further categorized into four kinds of subways to set up an implicature, namely by lexical features, syntactic patterns, logic information and other means. These results will shed light on the teaching and testing of students’listening comprehension.

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