معنای تلویحی معنایی است که به صورت غیرلفظی و غیرمستقیم در تعاملات گفتاری بیان میگردد و درک آن منوط به دانش مشترک گوینده و شنونده و آشنایی فرهنگی با زبان آنها دارد. به همین دلیل ، مطالعه آن صرفاً در معناشناسی مقدور نیست و علاوه بر این چون درک آن سخت است از مباحث کاربردشناسی زبان و تحلیل کلام است. ابهام در استنباط معنایی توسط شنونده باعث قطع ارتباط و یا پاسخ و درک نابجا از گفتار می گردد. در آزمونهای تافل، این نوع معنا در قسمتهای درک مطلب و شنیداری مورد ارزیابی قرار میگیرد. بررسی پیشینه تحقیق نشان دادهاست که داوطلبان ایرانی آزمون تافل، در قسمت شنیداری نسبت به داوطلبان آزمون تافل درسایر کشورها از ضعف معناداری برخوردارند. لذا این پژوهش به بررسی این مساله از لحاظ عدم درک معنای تلویحی در ارتباط با اصول همکاری در نظریه گرایس (1975) پرداختهاست. شرکت کنندگان در این پژوهش 62 نفر از دانش آموختگان دانشگاه شهید چمران، پیام نور و دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی بودند که به روش تصادفی طبقه بندی انتخاب شده و به دو گروه قوی و ضعیف براساس آزمون شنیداری تافل تقسیم شدند. از آزمون تی مستقل برای تحلیل دادهها و مقایسه دو گروه استفاده شد. نتایج نشان داد برای آزمون شوندگان هر دو گروه، تشخیص اصل ربط از همه سادهتر بوده و تشخیص اصل کمیت، شیوه و کیفیت از دیگر اصول مشکلتر است. اصل کمیت برای هر دو گروه بیشترین مشکل را در درک معنای تلویحی ایجاد کرد.
عنوان مقاله [English]
Examining the Candidates' Inferring Problems of TOEFL Listening Module
Implied meaning (hereafter, non-literal or indirect implicature) is studied in the field of pragmatics which considers the intended meaning in the context of the situation (Yule, 1996). The implied meaning is not denotatively expressed, but it is only understood through the shared knowledge of the interlocutors. This study explores the MA Persian speakers' lack of mastery on the listening module of TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) since they cannot get the implied (i.e., non-literal) and as a result, their listening score is unsatisfactory. Sixty-two MA graduate students took the TOEFL listening module and they were divided into two groups of high and low achievers based on their test scores. Data were analyzed through the theoretical framework of Gricean Maxims (1975). K-S test and independent samples t-test showed that the sub-groups of high and low achievers are significantly different in understanding the implied meanings of relevance and quantity maxims. However, both high and low achievers were not significantly different in quality and manner maxims; however, the scores of high achievers were greater than the low achievers, the difference did not meet the significant level (.05). The findings of the study suggest that teachers should focus on relevance and quantity maxims as the problematic maxims in recognizing the implied meaning of the items. The nature of relevance and quantity maxims should be clarified to the MA learners who need to infer the implied meanings of the TOEFL listening module.
The linguists have always considered the study of sentence meaning because of various interpretations of an utterance may convey. Implied meanings of these interpretations may not attract the attention of the people since they are so conventionalized that we consider them as literal. However, they may hinder communication or cause misunderstanding on the part of the listener or reader. This problem can be amended through apologizing or giving background knowledge. Although everyone has various interpretations of the utterances, the context of the situation may limit a set of meanings. In this case, the listeners' meaning can be different from the speakers' intended meaning which is implied and this is the role of the listener or reader who should discover the implied or indirect meaning of the utterances. Thus, the receivers should distinguish the sentence and utterance meanings of the senders' speech. Certainly, linguistic structures convey fixed meanings at a syntactic level (e.g., It is very hot.) to open a small talk on the bus. This is different from the same utterance (e.g., It is very hot.) when the speaker addresses a request (i.e., get me a glass of water.). If the addressee does not understand the implied meaning of the latter, he/she may get confused (Verschueren, 2016(.
In this study, we analyzed the participants’ responses to pragmatically loaded TOEFL short dialogues to identify the characteristics that make them difficult for MA students. The origin of the difficulty of understanding nonliteral meaning is the employment of Grice cooperative principles in the tests. The short dialogues, which are characterized by the quantity principle, are the most difficult ones but those that are characterized by the relevance principle are the simplest. These simple dialogues may become difficult if they are culturally loaded or if there is a combination of implicatures. Some items are tricky and do not indicate the complexity of the dialogue or the implicature. Although the words “implied” and “inferred” are interchangeably used, they do not convey the same meaning and are not processed similarly. They may be a source of difficulty even for native speakers. If words such as “imply” “mean”, and “suggest” are used in the item (e.g. what does the man imply?), it is the signal that there is an implicature in one of the utterances in the short talk exchange. This can help the learner to identify the nonliteral meaning. Although the scenarios in the TOEFL exam correspond to the real communication context, there is no one to help and signal the learner that her/his interlocutor may convey a nonliteral or implied meaning. In sum, it is recommended to consider these points and Grice principles in teaching and learning listening comprehension module.
The study of the application of Gricean principles in the TOEFL listening exam revealed the difficulties of inferring the implied meanings of the listening items, which contain pragmatic aspects, and they are connotatively motivated. Thus, the learners even at the graduate level need to learn the inferring strategies. Administrators of the listening comprehension test may encourage the students to focus their attention on the implied meanings. Moreover, this study reveals the effective role of the distracters which may be used as an inappropriate implicature.
Further research may deal with the other international exams like IELTS, TOLIMO, GRE to discover the nature of listening items and their correct choices and distractors as well. Reading, speaking and writing skills could be the subject of future studies since both receptive and productive language skills need to be evaluated in terms of the quality of their items regarding the reliability and validity of test construction.
Keywords: Inferring, Implied meaning, TOEFL, Listening module