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Linguaholic

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I've heard of this language trick lately and wondered what other people know about it.

A performative is when someone is telling a lie but they word it in a way that makes it technically true, which helps the fibber speak the lie with more sincerity and therefor makes it easier to believe.

An example: "I want to be clear, I didn't take the cookie."

The speaker is telling the truth, that they want to be clear.  This makes the lie easier to speak because there is a way that it can be viewed as truth.

What do you guys know about this?

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I've always known about these (being a native English speaker) but I didn't realize that's what they were called (unless you're making up a name haha). Also I think the trick is actually the word "take".

In, "I want to be clear, I didn't take the cookie", the reality of the situation was that maybe the cookie was given to him but he wasn't supposed to eat it. So technically he didn't "take" the cookie", the cookie was "given" to him.

Either way they're very tricky ways to sound honest. A really common one is:

Mom: "Why did you write on the wall yesterday?"

Son: "I didn't write on the wall yesterday.

The reality might have been that he wrote on the wall two days ago not yesterday. Little kids are really good at using "performatives".

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I've always known about these (being a native English speaker) but I didn't realize that's what they were called (unless you're making up a name haha). Also I think the trick is actually the word "take".

In, "I want to be clear, I didn't take the cookie", the reality of the situation was that maybe the cookie was given to him but he wasn't supposed to eat it. So technically he didn't "take" the cookie", the cookie was "given" to him.

Either way they're very tricky ways to sound honest. A really common one is:

Mom: "Why did you write on the wall yesterday?"

Son: "I didn't write on the wall yesterday.

The reality might have been that he wrote on the wall two days ago not yesterday. Little kids are really good at using "performatives".

Well a performative is a true statement that has nothing to do with the topic, followed by a lie about the topic. The true statement, "I want to be clear," qualifies the following statement, "I didn't take the cookie". 

Your examples are lies that are simply technically true. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, I am a lawyer so when I am cross examining people I get these a lot.  I never realized what they were called either, but I have to try to be really good at hearing them so that I can ask the right question as a follow up.

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