What makes for good conversation?

We hope to have the comments back later today, but in the meantime here’s some useful theory on what makes for good conversation. It’s HR Grice’s linguistic theory of Conversational Implicature, which sets out the need for specific conditions and that all parties are working co-operatively. Slugger’s play the ball not the man rule, is an (often forlorn) attempt to culture that kind of co-operative principle, but the maxims for producing quality in individual contributions are worth re-stating below:

a speaker is assumed to make a contribution that:

– is adequately but not overly informative (quantity maxim)
– the speaker does not believe to be false and for which adequate evidence is had (quality maxim)
– is relevant (maxim of relation or relevance), and
– is clear, unambiguous, brief, and orderly (maxim of manner).

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