'No Thanks': a Socio-Semiotic Approach

  • Anita Fetzer


This contribution argues for a socio-semiotic approach to natural-language communication which focuses on the connectedness between linguistic code and social and sociocultural practice. Section 1 investigates natural language communication with regard to propositional, interpersonal and interactional meaning from both code and inference-model viewpoints. The results of this discussion are accommodated in the redefinition of two of the most important premises of pragmatics, i.e. rationality and intentionality. In section 2, the interdependence of culture, context and communication is analysed in the framework of ethnomethodology, in which the linguistic realization of an utterance and its degree of contextualization are examined with regard to encoding, decoding, inference and implicature. In section 3 the phenomenon of communicative strategy is analysed in a socio-semiotic framework and special attention is given to the speech acts of denial and rejection. Communicative strategies are defined within the framework of preference organization and classified with regard to their preferred and dispreferred modes of linguistic representation and interpretation. In section 4, the results of the investigation of denials and rejections are systematized in the framework of the dialogue act of a plus/minus validity claim, which is based on Habermas' approach to communication (1987) and Halliday's functional interpretation of language (1996). In the conclusion, culture is defined as both a macro and a micro concept, and is created in and through the process of communication. Linguistic code and sociocultural practice are context-dependent by definition: they are anchored to linguistic contexts, which are embedded in sociocultural contexts, which are embedded in social contexts Thus, the macro concept of culture and its context-dependent manifestation as particular cultural values are reflected in particular communicative strategies which are interdependent on the presentation of self in everyday life (Goffman 1971).
Fetzer, A. (2003). ’No Thanks’: a Socio-Semiotic Approach. Linguistik Online, 14(2). https://doi.org/10.13092/lo.14.827
B Practical and empirical investigations