"To be honest": sequential uses of honesty phrases in talk-in-interaction

D. Edwards, Alessandra Fasulo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we examine parenthetical uses of honesty phrases (HPs) such as to be honest and honest to God in mundane domestic telephone calls and, for comparison, police interrogations. Parenthetical uses of HPs express a speaker's stance on the complement to which they are attached. We focus on HPs in two kinds of turn sequences: in framing dispreferred answers in question–answer (Q–A) sequences and in framing assessments. In Q–A sequences, HP+complement structures offer accounts for inability to answer in the form of reports on the speaker's intentional state (what they think, know, prefer, etc.). In assessment sequences, they frame first assessments as personal to the speaker and make relevant subsequent claims for independent, "my-side" assessments by second assessors. Generally, HPs are optional members' methods (among others) of asserting sincerity and independence as the basis of what they are saying on occasions when something functional, normative, or otherwise motivated is expectable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-376
Number of pages34
JournalResearch on Language & Social Interaction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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