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Indirect Language and Politeness Phenomena

“When you are at a dinner party and want the salt, you don’t blurt out, ‘Gimme the salt.’  Rather you use what linguists call a whimperative, as in ‘Do you think you could pass the salt?’”

“Yes, our point is to request the salt, but you’re doing it in such a way that first takes care to establish what linguists call ‘felicity conditions,’ or the prerequisites to making a sensible request.”

(Pinker [2009]: 72)

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