The Pragmatic Nature of Manipulation

Abstract

Broadly defined, manipulation is a kind of covert behavior or a means, whether linguistic or non- linguistic, used by manipulators in certain communicative encounters to achieve their goals, desires, and interests regardless of the perceptual, cognitive , and emotional feelings of their interlocutors. In this regard, they utilize myriad devices, especially those dishonest ones, like cunning, lying, making tricks, deceiving, and the like. To be successful in doing so, manipulators should have a cognition which enables them to pursue their own interests through making use of some aspects of human cognition, notably reasoning, checking for likeliness, and emotions. As such, manipulators play on their targets’ weaknesses to influence their motivation, beliefs, emotions, and reaction. For some scholars, manipulation is a psychologicalissuebecause it can be considered as a kind of human behavior or cognition. For others, it falls within the region of cognitive pragmatics since it is basically based on the use of cognition in relation to context. In this study, as far as language use is concerned, it is argued that manipulation is more pragmatic than psychological in nature. Besides, it is characterized by pragmatic features other than the cognitive ones. Hence, it is felt, here, that there is a need to reveal those pragmatic aspects to locate its treatment in its right place. This is done by means of identifying the relationship between manipulation and various pragmatic theories and issues.