The Sociology of Compliment Work in Polish and English

  • Robert K. Herbert
Part of the Modern Linguistics Series book series


The study of speech formulae, precoded sentential chunks, conversational and interactional routines, and the like has received substantial attention within the linguistic pragmatics literature over the past ten years. The common thread unifying these phenomena is the notion that some — perhaps a great deal — of everyday speech activity cannot be characterized by the spontaneous creativity attributed to speakers by early generative grammarians. It is now apparent that some important pieces of speech activity consist of stored units which are activated or retrieved in appropriate circumstances (cf., for example, Ferguson 1976, and the papers in Coulmas 1980). These precoded pieces and routines vary in terms of their fixedness in speech from a set of rigid formulae to a set of conversational prescriptions which may be filled in a variety of acceptable fashions. Conversational units of this nature seem especially prominent in situations of social negotiation, that is, when speakers are involved in the common tasks of attending to own and others’ face. That such interactional face-work should rely rather heavily on formulae and routines is perhaps not surprising, since such formulae and routines are easily recognized as such, and therefore the social moves committed by the speaker stand less chance of being missed or misinterpreted by the hearer.…


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© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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  • Robert K. Herbert

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