Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Felicity conditions

These are conditions necessary to the success of a speech act. They take their name from a Latin root - “felix” or “happy”. They are conditions needed for success or achievement of a performative. Only certain people are qualified to declare war, baptize people or sentence convicted felons. In some cases, the speaker must be sincere (as in apologizing or vowing). And external circumstances must be suitable: “Can you give me a lift?” requires that the hearer has a motor vehicle, is able to drive it somewhere and that the speaker has a reason for the request. It may be that the utterance is meant as a joke or sarcasm, in which case a different interpretation is in order. Loosely speaking, felicity conditions are of three kinds: preparatory conditions, conditions for execution andsincerity conditions.

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