Fawlty Implicatures* in Torquay

The number of scholarly authors who have studied the significance of verbal (and physical) interactions at Fawlty Towers is very limited. Nonetheless, professor Annjo Klungervik Greenall, of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, has recently done so – examining in detail the many (often heated) exchanges between Manuel and Basil Fawlty, and asking how they might contribute to the idea of Linguicism. As the professor puts it :

“The present paper aims to demonstrate how a refined version of the Gricean theory of non-observance of maxims based on the Schutzean notion of imposed thematic relevance can be applied to shed some light on the intercultural issue of the relative imbalance in native (or ‘expert’ non-native) vs. (‘non-expert’) non-native communication.”

And full analysis of the Fawlty/Manuel interactions showed that :

“… the (often) higher number of occurrences of deviations from (native speaker) norms (=non-observance of ‘maxims’) in non-native speech causes an over-attentiveness in the hearer and an increased interpretational activity which often ‘does not pay off’, something which, may trigger negative reactions and support the growth of linguicism.”

Gricean theory and linguicism: Infringements and physical violence in the relationship between Manuel and Basil Fawlty was published in the Journal of Pragmatics, Volume 41, Issue 3, March 2009, Pages 470-483.

*Implicature explained here.

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