Crafting communication activity: Understanding felicity in "I wish I ..." compliments

Mark Aakhus, Alan Aldrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A fundamental issue for pragmatics is how people mutually negotiate social activity through language. It is interesting that standard treatments for understanding the function of messages focus on how grammatical and illocutional features of messages signal speaker intention. The preoccupation of these approaches with defining felicity conditions overlooks how felicity is worked out in interaction. This study reconsiders the role of felicity conditions in interaction and shows how they are background assumptions interactants use as pragmatic resources to craft activity rather than conventional guarantors of a speaker's intentional meaning in making an utterance. This is accomplished by using data from 2 compliment corpora and analyzing messages that begin with "I wish I ..." that appear in those data sets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-425
Number of pages31
JournalResearch on Language and Social Interaction
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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