Thursday, October 2, 2008

Common Ground

My ESL Speaking and Listening class is a clinical look at, in part, dialogue. Which, as a fiction writer, I've been studying for years. In a very different way, and for a very different purpose, but the conclusions are strikingly similar.

One point the book hits on is the notion of an interlocutor answering a question with another question. From the book:

S1: What does pragmatics mean?
S2: Do you have an hour or two?
S1: Complicated, huh? Just give me the short answer.

And this conversation involves two willing participants. Just think if S2 were irritated.

S1: What does pragmatics mean?
S2: You saying I don't know what pragmatics means?
S1: No, I'm just asking--
S2: You asking me to prove my knowledge to you?
S1: I just--
S2: You just want to make a fool out of me.

The stuff of a convincing character.


Renee Thompson said...

You want a piece of me?

Rob said...

The stuff of (seemingly) convincing politicians, too...

Michelle Panik O'Neill said...

Renee: You think I can't hold my own in a fight?

Rob: The first thing politicians should learn is not to call a $700B bill a "bailout" and expect citizens to support it.