Indirect Speech

Why don’t people just say what they mean?
Why can’t they be direct and clear, like us?
Apparently it takes a Harvard professor to explain.

The video: Language as a Window into Human Nature. Steven Pinker.

The text: Words Don’t Mean What They Mean. Steven Pinker. Time magazine, Sep. 06, 2007.

The article: The logic of indirect speech. Steven Pinker, Martin A. Nowak, and James J. Lee. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(3), 833-838, 2008.

A longer article:
Rationales for Indirect Speech: The Theory of the Strategic Speaker. James J. Lee and Steven Pinker. Psychological Review, 117(3), 785–807, 2010.

What you should really be reading is Dr. Mary Shapiro’s page: Polite = Indirect.

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