Exploration of the Theory of Conversational Implicature in the Poems “Coal” and “Hanging Fire” by Audre Lorde.

Published: June 2019


Adaoma Igwedibia & Christian Anieke

About Authors: 

Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Enugu State, Nigeria

Department of English and Literary Studies, Godfrey Okoye University Enugu

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A number of works have been done by scholars on the study and interpretation of Audre Lorde’s poems, especially through the lens of literary and critical analysis. However, Lorde’s poems have not been analyzed pragmatically. A lot may have been written about Lorde’s poetry, but there is absolutely no evidence of a pragmatics study of her work. Lorde is the author of many poems that have been studied in various theoretical dimensions, but none have been done with reference to their pragmatics implications. The problem which this research recognizes, therefore, is that Lorde’s poems, especially the those under the present study, have not been studied and interpreted using Grice’s theory of Conversational Implicature (Cooperative Principle) which comprised the four maxims: the maxims of Quantity, Quality, Manner and Relation. This study seeks to discover the extent to which these maxims could be applied to the reading of these selected poems of Lorde. It also seeks to ascertain the degree to which Lorde’s selected poems violate or adhere to these maxims. The study has found that Audre  Lorde in some of her poems, violates the maxims as well as adheres to it both in the same breath.

Keywords: Conversational Implicature, Pragmatics, Grice, Poems, Maxims, Cooperative Principles, Audre Lorde, Context