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“An Infinite and Endless Liar”: Paroles as a Case Study of the Pragmatics of Lying in Shakespeare

Aoife Beville


Lying is part of our life and part of our literary canon, the choice to lie, not lie or almost lie is both a moral and linguistic one. In the present paper lying, and related concepts such as deliberate obfuscation and deceptive implicatures, will be examined from a pragmatic, specifically neo-Gricean perspective. The purpose of this study is to determine the role of deception in the process of characterisation, with a particular focus on the form and function of the mendacious language of Paroles, the “infinite and endless liar” in All’s Well That Ends Well. Following the analysis of current pragmatic definitions of lying, this article proposes a distinction between Off-Record Verbal Deception (ORVD) and prototypical lies in the analysis of textual examples, in order to understand how these strategic linguistic choices affect the construction of character.


Pragmatics of lying; Shakespeare; Pragmastylistics; Characterization; Verbal Deception.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ling-2021-002-bevi

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