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Felicity Conditions

Felicity conditions are conditions that must be in place for an utterance to be successful, that is, for it to have the effect that was desired by the speaker. This concept has been an important contribution to pragmatic analysis of what people are attempting to do when they speak to others since the middle of the last century. Felicity conditions were first suggested as ways to classify certain types of utterances as successful or appropriate. Felicity conditions are discussed as part of a pragmatic analysis of speech called speech act theory. To understand the role of felicity conditions, a brief introduction to speech act theory follows, along with a discussion of J. L. Austin’s and John R. Searle’s contributions to this concept. The entry ...

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