Socio-Cultural Factors For Felicity Conditions In The Speech Genre Of Persuasion


The article deals with the study of linguistic and extralinguistic factors of felicity conditions for persuasion in fictional dialogues. The material for the analysis is taken from the works of contemporary Russian novelists. The modelling of a pragmatic situation “invitation / request / advice – refusal – persuasion – refusal / agreement” is being attempted. The correlation between the stimulus and reactionis analysed. The authors of the article conclude that interlocutors who are not willing to shorten the distance while communicating resort to refusing reacting remarks, in which case they tend to use conventional means of deliberately polite speech behaviour and extralinguistic means. On the other hand, the situation of persuasion that comes to an agreement is characterized by the usage of various speech tactics, such as appeal to friendship, to moral or family values, reference to the authority, to personal experience, etc. The key factor for felicity conditions is to take into account the interlocutor’s interest.

Keywords: Communicative agreementcomplex speech actpersuasive utterancescommunicative-pragmatic modelspeech tacticscommunicative failure


Principles of politeness and cooperation constitute the communicative competence of the speaker. This category is realized through communicative strategies and tactics, among which an important place belongs to verbal means of achieving communicative consent in various situations, including conflict ones. In this article, tactics of the speech impact on the addressee are examined on the material of initiating and reacting speech acts in situations of "persuasion - refusal / agreement" on the example of literary and fictional dialogues in the works of contemporary Russian writers.

The aim of the article is to study the socio-cultural characteristics of successful and unsuccessful communicative actions within the framework of the complex speech genre of persuasion. Text fragments under the analysis have a relative communicative completeness (achieved or not achieved communicative agreement) as well as the socio-cultural markers influencing the result of communication.

Problem Statement

The problem of the speech genre, posed and considered by M.M. Bakhtin, is today in the center of the attention of communicative linguistics and represents an actively developing research field, combining a variety of approaches. Many researchers note that the concept of the speech genre is ambiguous and unclear (Voytak, 2015; Dementyev, 2017). The distinction between the concepts such as text and speech genre (Ganus, 2015 ; Buzalskaya, 2017) remains debatable, as well as the correlation between the speech act and the speech genre (Dementiev, 2017). M.M. Bakhtin defines speech genres as "typical forms constructionas a whole", "certain relatively stable thematic, compositional and stylistic types of utterances" (Bakhtin, 1979). In comparison with the speech act, the speech genre "especially if we take into account secondary speech genres is a more detailed and complex speech construction consisting of several speech acts" (Kozhina, 1999).

M.M. Bakhtin identifies primary and secondary, simple and complex speech genres. There are various attempts to the typology of genres, which are presented in the works of A.Vezhbitskaya, V.V.,Dementieva, Т.V.Shmeleva, K.F. Sedova et al. A. Baranov extends the typology of speech genres, proposed by M.M. Bakhtin, and offers the following classification:

  • primary (simple) speech genres, which are close to speech acts;

  • primary (complex) speech genres, which are close to the dialogical text;

  • secondary (simple) speech genres, which are functional and semantic elementary texts such as description, narrative, etc.;

  • secondary (complex) speech genres, which are texts that include lower speech genres in a transformed form (Baranov, 1997).

Thus, primary speech genres (together with speech acts) belong to the sphere of speech actions and situations, and secondary speech genres belong to the sphere of texts. Primary speech genres are verbalized in the form of one or several dialogical units with initial and reactive utterances. The correlation of primary speech genres with situations of social interaction makes the researcher take into account pragmatic conditions, including status-role and interpersonal relations of interlocutors.

Research Questions

Along with simple and complex primary speech genres, it is necessary to distinguish a larger and more extensive discourse unit, which can be called an integrated primary speech genre. We believe that speech genre of motivation is one of the integrated primary speech genres. The speech genre of motivation may take the form of speech genres of compulsion, urging, persuasion, etc. Considering the speech genre of persuasion we state that it consists of several complex speech genres, including request, suggestion, advice or invitation, which are followed by several refusals with the final refusal or agreement to the initial utterance. Thus, from our point of view, request, advice and invitation, on the one hand, and persuasion, on the other hand, take different positions in the hierarchy of speech genres.

Differences between speech genres of urging and persuasion are, first, in the system and ways of constructing arguments (Issers, 2016), namely, in the prevailing rational effect in urging and using both rational arguments and emotional means when persuading. The differences between urging and persuasion may proceed from the distinguishing the beneficiary of the communication in case of coming to an agreement, but we suppose that both a speaker, an addressee and even a third person can be the beneficiary in the situation of persuasion. Compulsion differs from persuasion by using linguistic means with the semantics of categorical will (order, threats, etc.).

Purpose of the Study

The present study is focused on the research of correlation between the stimulus and the reaction in the pragmatic situation “persuasion – refusal – persuasion – agreement”.

Request, advice and invitation are imperatives. They are supposed to make a direct impact on the addressee. A request is an action performed by the addressee in the interests of the speaker, and advice is an action the beneficiary of which is the addressee, while an invitation usually takes place in the interests of both. In all these cases, the addressee has a choice whether to perform this action or not. In dialogological units initiating imperatives and reactive utterances can be analyzed within the framework of speech act theory, however they can also have a more complex structure being extended by other speech acts.

Research Methods

The main research method applied in the work is modeling the speech genre of persuasion at four levels. On the structural level, speech genres are devided into primary elements, such as speech acts, initiating and response replicas, etc. On the intentional the criterion is the explication of intentions of communicants. On the pragmatic level, we analyse status-role and interpersonal relationships, as well as the causes of a positive or negative perlocutive effect. On the semantic and stylistic level, the means of speech influence of the addressee and the addressee are investigated.


In this article we show that persuasion can sometimes reach its aim and we will give the examples of both successful and unsuccessful final speech act. As well, we will state the felicity conditions for persuasion.

As an example of the speech genre of persuasion with a successful final speech act, we take the conversation between Major-Engineer Skvortsov and Major Tysyachny, taken from I. Grekova's story "On Trials." Skvortsov, who is responsible for testing missiles, asks Major Tysyachny to provide him with several subordinates to help with the processing of the cartogram of the blast:

- А у меня, Алексей Федорович, к тебе просьба. Надо срочно обработать картограмму вчерашнего подрыва.

Тысячный отказывает ему:

- Не выйдет.

- Отчего же, мамочка?

- Девушек, касказать, нет. Все на работе, касказать, генерала.

- Так уж и нет?

[-And I, Alexey Fyodorovich, have a favor to ask of you. We must urgently process the cartogram of yesterday's blasting.

Major Tysyachny denies him:

-It won’t work.

- Why, Mummy?

- No girls. All at work, General.

- Really so?]

After the first failure, Skvortsov cleverly uses the opportunity to compliment Major Tysyachny. Then he repeats his request, using an indirect interrogative statement:

- Так как же все-таки с картограммой?

[-So, what about the cartogram?]

At the same time, he appeals to friendly feelings ("be a father"), and also appeals to the authority: "Not my request - Lidia Kondratievna."

In his turn, Major Tysyachny asks to bring him to the birthday of General Sivers. As a result, the communicants come to a mutual agreement:

- Значит, заметано. Я обеспечу тебе генерала, а ты обработаешь картограмму. Идет? (Grekova, 1990)

[- So, it's a deal. I will provide you with the General, and you will process the cartogram. Is that right?]

The communicative action of the consent to Skvortsov's request has several felicity conditions. The communicants are well acquainted, Skvortsov is a charming man who is well-connected, and he uses communicative techniques such as means of informal communication, emphasizing socio-psychological communicative intimacy up to familiarity ("Mummy"), compliment, appeal to friendly feelings, readiness to service in return and an appeal to an authoritative person.

In this dialogue, we witness such peculiarities of Russian communicative behavior as a direct way of expressing a request (the use of the imperative: "Process, Alexei Fedorovich"), communicative pressure (impositivity), absence of courtesy markers (for example, the word "please").

In another episode of the book, Lida Romnich persuades Tetkin to propose to Laura. Tetkinobjects:

- Ну что Лора. Она, конечно, женщина, а все-таки.. .

[- Well, Laura. She, of course, is a woman, but still ...]

In response, Lydia gives the reasons with which Tetkin is forced to agree:

- Она вас любит.

- Знаю. Вы думаете, я не ценю? Я даже сам ее люблю, честное слово. Я это только недавно выяснил. Определенно люблю.

[- Shelovesyou.

- I know. Do you think I do not appreciate? I even love her myself, honestly. I just found out this recently. Definitely love.]

Lidia names the reasons why Tetkin needs to marry Laura: his age, worsening health, loneliness, there is nobody to take care of him, and Laura is a good person.

To his doubts that Laura has two children, Lida replies:

- Так это же отлично: двое детей! Когда еще вы своих вырастите, а тут все готово, двое, да еще какие прелестные: Маша и Миша. Как мячики. Ладно, по рукам. А теперь, не теряя времени, давайте к ней и...

- Сделать предложение? - по-овечьи покорно спросил Теткин.

[- So it's excellent: two children! It’ll take ages to raise your own, but here everything is ready, there are two, and moreover, such lovely ones, Masha and Misha. Like balls. All right, agreed. And now, don’t waste time, let's go to her and ...

- Make a proposal? - Tetkin asked meekly.]

Reaching agreement on several particular utterances, Lida eventually achieves her goal: Tetkin is going to make a proposal to Laura. Lidya uses a variety of verbal means to achieve this. They are praise (Good!), affirmative and evaluative statements: "So this is excellent: two children!", " there are two, and moreover, such lovely ones", "Everything is so well arranged!", "You’ll marry ..."; imperative statements: "And now, don’t waste time, let's go to her and ..."; the categorical refusal to marry Tetkin herself: "Tetkin, don’t talk about me. I'm married. Besides, I do not like you, but Laura loves. This is also important. " (Grekova, 1990)

In this episode, the main motive of the speaker (Lida Romnich) is the motive of friendly care, since persuasion is carried out, first of all, in the interests of a third person - Laura. This motive is typical for Russian communicative behavior, because Russians, unlike Englishmen and Americans, are more likely to interfere in the lives of others to help them.

The failure of the final speech act can be determined by various factors. For example, in the scene of the first meeting of Major-General Sievers and General Gindin, Sivers' refusal is due to Gindin's indelicacy towards Sivers' colleagues, and Sivers' undoubted prejudice and his uneasy character.

The first meeting of the characters takes place in the officers' canteen, where Sivers dines with his subordinates. Gindin comes to his table and offers him to have dinner in a separate room. To the invitation "Come with me, Comrade General," Sivers answers with the categorical direct order "At ease!”, which sounds inappropriate in this case, and invites him to join them at table. Despite this, Gindin repeats his invitation: "So, shall we go?". Thus, the situation of "invitation - refusal" turns into a more complicated situation of persuasion, which in this case includes three speech acts of invitation and three statements with refusal. Inviting Sivers Gindin tries to create a symmetrical situation with his interlocutor, proceeding from the fact that they have equal social status (they are both generals), and emphasizes the vertical distance to the rest of those present. Sivers, on the contrary, reduces the distance in relation to the members of his group, but strengthens the opposition between his group and Gindin. At the end of the meeting, Sivers not only responds to the refusal to invite Gindin, but also ridicules him for snobbery towards his companions. HecitesfromGogol: « У нас есть такие мудрецы, которые с помещиком, имеющим двести душ, будут говорить совсем иначе, как с тем, у кого их триста.. ." ["We have such wise men who, with a landowner who has two hundred souls, will speak quite differently with those who have three hundred of them ... "]. It should be stated that while behaving in such a rude way, Sivers uses the conventional polite refusal formulas such as: « Нет, покорнейше благодарю, не надо. Огорчен, но вынужден отказаться » [“No, I am awfully thankful to you, but there is no need”. “I am really sorry, but I have to refuse.”] The use of archaized Russian formulas in this context only emphasizes the asymmetry of the situation.

The analyzed material shows that most examples with a final refusal refer to the situations of the initial invitation. In many cases, it is a question of ritual refusals due to unwillingness to cause inconvenience to the interlocutor. It also may be refusal expressing concern about the initiator, for example, his expenses, time, etc. For example, in the episode of accommodating General Sivers in the hotel, Gindin and the administrator offer various services, but General Sievers refuses.

- Генерал - наш уважаемый гость, и я вас прошу отнестись к нему с особым вниманием. Вы меня поняли?

Ада Трофимовна кивнула.

- Завтрак в номер?

- Ради бога, не надо, - поспешно возразил Сиверс. - Это бы меня только стеснило, к тому же я не имею привычки завтракать.

- Может быть, обед, ужин? - спросил Гиндин.

- Покорно благодарю, ничего . (Grekova, 1990)

[-The general is our dear guest, and I ask you to pay special attention to him. Do you understand me?

Ada Trofimovna nodded.

- Breakfast in the room?

-For God's sake, no, - Sievers said hastily. - It would only embarrass me, besides, I do not have the habit of eating breakfast.

-Maybe lunch, dinner? - Gindin asked.

- Thank you a lot, nothing.]

As a rule, refusals in situations of inviting to have dinner or offering any services are common between unfamiliar people. Such refusalsvery often are caused by unwillingness to be obliged or to reduce the distance with the addressee. Usually such refusals are accompanied by politeness formulas - apologies, expressions of regret, indication of the reasons or the need for refusal.

On the other hand, persuasion during the reception of guests is a situation typical for Russian communicative behavior. It is recorded as a precedent in Krylov's famous fable "Demyan's ear". E. Shchelchkova (Shchelchkova, 2015) points out in her thesis that Russian communicants can exert pressure, show persistence, use additional means of influence at the invitation.

We believe that the final refusal in the situations of invitation and hospitality does not indicate a communicative failure if the invitation is made only from courtesy. Otherwise, a refusal may indicate an unwillingness to reduce the distance between communicants.

Typical tactics of speech persuasion on the addressee are appeals to feelings and relations between partners, to the qualities of a partner, to authority, to partner’s reasoning [4]. In A.Marinina's book "A Spring for a Mousetrap", the militiaman Igor turns to the head of the organized crime group, Abdul, and asks him to provide financial assistance to the club of pensioners. Igor is very competent to make his speech. He begins the conversation with an appeal to filial feelings of Abdul:

- Слушай, Абдул, – приступил я к делу, – у тебя родители живы?

- Слава Аллаху.

- Сколько им лет?

- Не понял, к чему ты клонишь, – нахмурился Абдул.

[- Listen, Abdul,- I said, -are your parents alive?

- Glory be to Allah.

- How old are they?

-I do not understand what you're driving at,- Abdul frowned.]

Then comes the appeal to Abdul's national feelings and the tactics of praising while opposing to other people:

- Ты человек с понятиями, – продолжал я как ни в чем не бывало, – у тебя есть уважение к старости. У русского человека его нет, а у тебя – есть.

– Я своим родителям сам помогаю, ни от кого помощи не жду.

[- I help my own parents, I do not expect help from anyone.

You're a decent man,- I continued, as if nothing had happened, "you have respect for old people. A Russian person does not have it, but you have it.]

To strengthen the argument, Igor also uses the tactic of self-control:

– Так это тебе повезло, Абдул, – вздохнул я, – не все же такие способные, как ты, не каждый умеет деньги делать. Я, например, не умею, а стариков жалко.

[-So you're lucky, Abdul,- I sighed, - not everyone is as capable as you, not everyone knows how to make money. I, for example, do not know how, but I am sorry for the old.]

In one of the following utterances answering Abdul’s remarks, Igor resorts to tactics of appealing to moral values:

– И зачем мне это? Что я с этого буду иметь?

– Спать будешь лучше, – усмехнулся я. – Будешь вспоминать о своих родителях и думать, что ты сделал доброе дело, глядишь – и им там кто-нибудь поможет старость скоротать (Marinina, 2017).

[-And why should I? What will I have from this?

-You'll sleep better,- I grinned. - You will remember your parents and think that you have done a good deed, you see - and someone there will help your relatives].

In another episode from the same book, a former retired publisher persuades a graduate student to appropriate and publish under her own name the book of another writer. To do this, he uses a reference to his own experience and authority ( Ты меня слушай, я жизнь прожил, тысячи рукописей прочел, я в этом понимаю [You listen to me, I lived my life, read thousands of manuscripts, I understand this]), a reference to the fact that this is a common practice ( Говорю тебе: можно! Так все делают. Все воруют, все без исключения. Страну разворовали [Itellyou: it'spossible! Everyone does it, everyone steals, everyone without exception. The country is plundered]). We witness imperative statements and various means of manipulation. Among other tactics of persuasion in Russian communicative behavior we can state an appeal to friendly feelings, a reference to necessity, a sharing of responsibility, etc.


As the analysis of complex speech genre of persuasion shows, the principles of politeness and cooperation complement each other. Ritually conventional politeness formulas are used by unfamiliar communicants especially in situations of refusal. In situations of informal communication, the principle of cooperation is dominant. The felicity conditions in the speech genre of persuasion are the consideration of the partner's interests.


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30 April 2018

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

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Aznacheeva, E., & Mamonova, Y. (2018). Socio-Cultural Factors For Felicity Conditions In The Speech Genre Of Persuasion. In & I. V. Denisova (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 39. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 322-329). Future Academy.