Communicative success vs. failure

David A. Good
Table of contents

There is no way of telling, but it seems likely that interest in communicative success and failure (CSF henceforth) is as old as the human capacity for reflection on communicative behaviour. Indeed, if arguments as to the role of interpersonal manipulation and reflection thereon in the evolution of intelligence and language are correct (Byrne & Whiten 1988; Good 1995; Goody 1995), it may well have been with us for even longer. It can certainly be dated to the classical interest in rhetoric, which Richards aptly described as the “study of misunderstanding and its remedies” Richards (1965: 3), and it has been an issue for various creeds and academic disciplines ever since.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price.


Abramovitch, H. & E. Schwartz
19963 stages of medical dialogue. Theoretical medicine 17(2): 175–187. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ackerman, B.P.
1994Children’s source errors in referential communication. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 58(3): 432–464. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Anderson, A.H., A. Clark & J. Mullin
1994Interactive communication between children – learning how to make language work in dialog. Journal of Child Language 21(2): 439–463. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Atkinson, P.
1985Language, structure and reproduction: an introduction to the sociology of Basil Bernstein. Methuen. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Austin, J.L.
1975How to do things with words. Clarendon Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Baars, B.J.
1992Experimental slips and human error: exploring the architecture of volition. Plenum Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Barresi, J. & C. Moore
1996Intentional relations and social understanding. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 19(1): 107. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Bauman, R.
1983Let your words be few: symbolism of speaking and silence among seventeenth-century Quakers. Cambridge University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Beal, C.R. & J.H. Flavell
1982Effect of increasing the salience of message ambiguities on kindergartners evaluations of communicative success and message adequacy. Developmental Psychology 18(1): 43–48. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Bernstein, B., P. Atkinson, B. Davies & S. Delamont
1995Discourse and reproduction. Hampton Press. Google Scholar
Bernstein, B.B.
1974Class, codes and control. Routledge & Kegan Paul. Google Scholar
Bok, S.
1980Lying: moral choice in public and private life. Quartet Books. Google Scholar
Bowers, C., J. Deaton, R. Oser & C. Prince
et al. 1995Impact of automation on aircrew communication and decision-making performance. International Journal of Aviation Psychology 5(2): 145–167. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Bowman, L. & A. Crofts
1991High impact business presentations: the secrets behind the success of the world’s most persuasive speakers. Business Books. Google Scholar
Brady, N.C., J.E. Mclean, L.K. Mclean & S. Johnston
1995Initiation and repair of intentional communication acts by adults with severe to profound cognitive disabilities. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 38(6): 1334–1348. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Brody, H.
1999Commentary: What we have here, is a failure to communicate. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 24(1): 28–33. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Brown, G.
1995Speakers, listeners and communication: explorations in discourse analysis. Cambridge University Press. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Brown, P. & S.C. Levinson
1987Politeness: some universals in language usage. Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
Brownell, M.D. & J.H. Whiteley
1992Development and training of referential communication in children with mental-retardation. American Journal on Mental Retardation 97(2): 161–171. Google Scholar
Burch, G.
1995Resistance is useless: the art of business persuasion. Headline. Google Scholar
Byrne, R.W. & A. Whiten
1988Machiavellian intelligence: social expertise and the evolution of intellect in monkeys, apes and humans. Clarendon Press. Google Scholar
Cameron, D.
1992Review of Tannen “You just don’t understand”. Feminism & Psychology 2: 465–468. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Cameron, R. & J. Williams
1997Sentence to ten cents: A case study of relevance and communicative success in nonnative-native speaker interactions in a medical setting. Applied Linguistics 18(4): 415–445. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Carston, R. & S. Uchida
1998Relevance theory: applications and implications. John Benjamins. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Chute, R.D. & E.L. Wiener
1995Cockpit-cabin communication. 1. A tale of two cultures. International Journal of Aviation Psychology 5(3): 257–276. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1996Cockpit-cabin communication. 2. Shall we tell the pilots? International Journal of Aviation Psychology 6(3): 211–231. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Clark, E.V., J. Morton & J.C. Marshall
1977Developmental and pathological language. Elek Science. Google Scholar
Clark, H.H.
1996Using language. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Clark, H.H. & D. Wilkes-Gibbs
1986Referring as a collaborative process. Cognition 22(1): 1–39. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Clark, L.W.
1995Interventions for persons with alzheimers-disease – strategies for maintaining and enhancing communicative success. Topics in Language Disorders 15(2): 47–65. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Clinton, B.L.
1992Informative communication instruction – an application of theory and research to the elementary-school classroom. Communication Education 41(1): 55–67. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Cook-Gumperz, J.
1973Social control and socialization; a study of class differences in the language of maternal control. Routledge & K. Paul. Google Scholar
Coupland, N., H. Giles & J.M. Wiemann
1991“Miscommunication” and problematic talk. Sage. Google Scholar
Creber, J.W.P.
1972Lost for words: language and educational failure. Penguin. Google Scholar
Cutler, A.
1982Slips of the tongue and language production. Mouton. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
D’aprix, R.
1996Communicating for change: connecting the workplace with the marketplace. Jossey-Bass. Google Scholar
Dascal, M.
1999Introduction: Some questions about misunderstanding. Journal of Pragmatics 31(6): 753–762. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Davies, P.
1992Personal power: how to achieve influence and success in your professional life. Piatkus. Google Scholar
Deyhle, D.
1983Measuring success and failure in the classroom – teacher communication about tests and the understandings of young navajo students. Peabody Journal of Education 61(1): 67–85. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Dobson, A.
1995How to communicate at work: making a success of your working relationships. How To Books. Google Scholar
Docherty, N.M., M. Derosa & N.C. Andreasen
1996Communication disturbances in schizophrenia and mania. Archives of General Psychiatry 53(4): 358–364. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Dubrin, A.J.
1994Applying psychology: individual and organizational effectiveness. Prentice Hall International. Google Scholar
Eberlin, M., G. Mcconnachie, S. Ibel & L. Volpe
1993Facilitated communication – a failure to replicate the phenomenon. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 23(3): 507–530. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ekman, P.
1985Telling lies: clues to deceit in the marketplace, politics, and marriage. Norton. Google Scholar
Emerson, J. & P. Enderby
1996Management of speech and language disorders in a mental-illness unit. European Journal of Disorders of Communication 31(3): 237–244. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Erde, E.L.
1999aA commentary on ‘informed consent to septoplasty: An anecdote from the field’. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 24(1): 18–27. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1999bInformed consent to septoplasty: An anecdote from the field. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 24(1): 11–17. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Erickson, F. & J. Shultz
1982The counselor as gatekeeper. Academic Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Felouzis, G.
1993Class interactions and success at school – an analysis comparing boys and girls. Revue Francaise de Sociologie 34(2): 199–222. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Fisher, D. & S. Vilas
1996Successful networking: the key to personal and professional success. Thorsons. Google Scholar
Freud, S.
1914Psychopathology of everyday life. Benn. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Frith, U. & F. Happe
1994Language and communication in autistic disorders. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Of London Series b- Biological Sciences 346(1315): 97–104. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Fromkin, V.A.
1973Speech errors as linguistic evidence. Mouton. Google Scholar
Funk, K., B. Lyall, J. Wilson & R. Vint et al.
1999Flight deck automation issues. International Journal of Aviation Psychology 9(2): 109–123. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Garfinkel, H.
1967Studies in ethnomethodology. Prentice-Hall.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Gattellari, M. & P.N. Butow et al.
1999Misunderstanding in cancer patients: Why shoot the messenger? Annals of Oncology 10(1): 39–46. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Geddes, D.S.
1995Keys to communication: a handbook for school success. Corwin Press: Sage. Google Scholar
Glaser, C.B. & B.S. Smalley
1993More power to you. London: Century Business. Google Scholar
Good, D.A.
1988The viability of conversational grammars. In M. Taylor F. Neel & D.G. Bouwhuis (eds.) The structure of multimodal dialogue. North-Holland. Google Scholar
1990Repair and cooperation in conversation. In P. Luff N. Gilbert & D. Frohlich (eds.) Computers and conversation. Academic Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1995When does hindsight become foresight?In E.N. Goody (ed.): 139–149. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1996Pragmatics and presence. AI & Society 10: 309–314. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Goody, E.N.
1995Social intelligence and interaction. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Gordon, J.C.B.
1981Verbal deficit: a critique. Croom Helm. Google Scholar
Grice, H.P.
1989Studies in the way of words. Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
Gumperz, J.J.
1982Discourse strategies. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
(ed.) 1982Language and social identity. Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
Gumperz, J.J. & D. Tannen
1979Individual and social differences in language use. In C. Fillmore D. Kempler & S-Y. Wang (eds.) Individual differences in language ability and language behaviour. Academic Press.  BoP DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Halliday, M.A.K. & R. Hasan
1976Cohesion in English. Longman.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Hamlin, S.
1989How to talk so people listen: the real key to job success. Thorsons. Google Scholar
Happe, F.
1999Autism: cognitive deficit or cognitive style? Trends in Cognitive Sciences 3(6): 216–222. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Harris, P.R. & F. Elashmawi
1993Multicultural management: new skills for global success. Gulf Pub. Google Scholar
Haywood, R.
1991All about public relations: how to build business success on good communications. McGraw-Hill. Google Scholar
1994Managing your reputation: how to plan and run communications programmes that win friends and build success. McGraw-Hill. Google Scholar
Heath, S.B.
1983Ways with words: language, life, and work in communities and classrooms. Cambridge University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Hedelin, L. & E. Hjelmquist
1998Preschool children’s mastery of the form/content distinction in communicative tasks. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 27(3): 421–452. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Heritage, J.
1984Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. Polity Press. Google Scholar
Hewitt, L.E.
1998Influence of question type on response adequacy in young adults with autism. Journal of Communication Disorders 31(2): 135–152. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Hollander, D.
1997101 lies men tell women: and why women believe them. Harper Perennial. Google Scholar
Howard, A.
1990Getting through to you: success and failure in communicating at home at work with friends. Gateway. Google Scholar
Hughes, C. & J. Russell
1993Autistic childrens difficulty with mental disengagement from an object – its implications for theories of autism. Developmental Psychology 29(3): 498–510. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Huspek, M.
1994Oppositional codes and social-class relations. British Journal of Sociology 45(1): 79–102. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ibesora, M.V.
1989The failure of communication in schizophrenic thought-disorder. Communication and Cognition 22(2): 191–201. Google Scholar
King, N.
1991The last five minutes: the successful closing moves in sales, business, and interviews. Simon & Schuster. Google Scholar
Kluwin, T.N. & D.F. Moores & M.G. Gaustad
1992Toward effective public school programs for deaf students: context, process, and outcomes. Teachers College Press. Google Scholar
Labov, W.
1972Sociolinguistic patterns. University of Pennsylvania Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Lane, H.
1984When the mind hears: a history of the deaf. Random House. Google Scholar
Langer, N.
1999Culturally competent professionals in therapeutic alliances enhance patient compliance. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 10(1): 19–26. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Leekam, S. et al.
1997Eye-direction detection: A dissociation between geometric and joint attention skills in autism. British Journal of Developmental Psychology 15(Pt1): 77–95. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Linde, C.
1988The quantitative study of communicative success – politeness and accidents in aviation discourse. Language in Society 17(3): 375–399. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Linell, P.
1995Troubles with mutualities: Towards a dialogical theory of misunderstanding and miscommunication. In I. Markova C.F. Graumann & K. Foppa (eds.) Mutualities in dialogue: 176–213. Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
Lloyd, P.
1992The role of clarification requests in childrens communication of route directions by telephone. Discourse Processes 15(3): 357–374. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
1994Referential communication – assessment and intervention. Topics in Language Disorders 14(3): 55–69. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Locke, J.
1961An essay concerning human understanding. Dutton. Google Scholar
Maltz, D. & R. Borker
1982A cultural approach to male-female miscommunication. In J.J. Gumperz (ed.): 196–216. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Manoach, D.S., T.A. Sandson & S. Weintraub
1995The developmental social-emotional processing disorder is associated with right-hemisphere abnormalities. Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurology 8(2): 99–105. Google Scholar
Markova, I. & K. Foppa
1990The dynamics of dialogue. Harvester Wheatsheaf.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Martensson, L.
1995The aircraft crash at Gottrora: Experiences of the cockpit crew. International Journal of Aviation Psychology 5(3): 305–326. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Mccartney, E.
1981Constructive communication failure – the response of speech disordered children to requests for clarification. British Journal of Disorders of Communication 16(3): 147–157. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Mcdonald, S. & P. Vansommers
1993Pragmatic language-skills after closed-head injury – ability to negotiate requests. Cognitive Neuropsychology 10(4): 297–315. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Meringer, R., C. Mayer, A. Cutler & D. Fay
1978Versprechen und Verlesen: eine psychologisch-linguistische Studie. John Benjamins. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Michaels, S.
1981“Sharing time”: Children’s narrative styles and differential access to literacy. Language in Society 10(4): 423–442. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Miller, G.R. & J.B. Stiff
1993Deceptive communication. Sage.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Mitchell, R.W. & N.S. Thompson
1986Deception, perspectives on human and nonhuman deceit. State University of New York Press. Google Scholar
Moore, P.
1997Rhetorical vs. instrumental approaches to teaching technical communication. Technical Communication 44(2): 163–173. Google Scholar
Moss, G.
1993Getting your ideas across. Kogan Page. Google Scholar
Nyberg, D.
1993The varnished truth: truth telling and deceiving in ordinary life. University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar
O’connor, J. & I. Mcdermott
1997The art of systems thinking: essential skills for creativity and problem solving. Thorsons. Google Scholar
Perkins, M.R.
1998Is pragmatics epiphenomenal? Evidence from communication disorders. Journal of Pragmatics 29(3): 291–311. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Perry, A., J. Bebko & S. Bryson
1994Validity of facilitated communication – failure to replicate calculator and singer (1992). Topics in Language Disorders 14(4): 79–82. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Reichle, J.
1997Communication intervention with persons who have severe disabilities. Journal of Special Education 31(1): 110–134. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Reynolds, M.A. & G. Holdgrafer
1998Social-communicative interactions of preschool children with developmental delays in integrated settings. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education 18(4): 235–242. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ricard, R.J.
1993Conversational coordination – collaboration for effective communication. Applied Psycholinguistics 14(3): 387–412. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Richards, I.A.
1965The philosophy of rhetoric. Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
Robinson, E.J. & W.P. Robinson
1981Ways of reacting to communication failure in relation to the development of the childs understanding about verbal communication. European Journal of Social Psychology 11(2): 189–208. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Rochester, S. & J.R. Martin
1979Crazy talk: a study of the discourse of schizophrenic speakers. Plenum Press.  BoP DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Rogers, R.
1997Clinical assessment of malingering and deception. Guilford. Google Scholar
Rosenthal, R. & L. Jacobson
1968Pygmalion in the classroom: teacher expectation and pupils’ intellectual development. Holt Rinehart & Winston. Google Scholar
Saint Martin, M.D., J.C. Passeron & P. Bourdieu
1994Academic discourse: linguistic misunderstanding and professorial power. Polity Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Schegloff, E.A.
1992Repair after next turn – the last structurally provided defense of intersubjectivity in conversation. American Journal of Sociology 97(5): 1295–1345. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Schegloff, E.A., G. Jefferson & H. Sacks
1977The preference for self-correction in the organization of repair in conversation. Language 53: 361–382. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Schegloff, E.A. & H. Sacks
1973Opening up closings. Semiotica 7: 289–327. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Schober, M.F. & H.H. Clark
1989Understanding by addressees and overhearers. Cognitive Psychology 21(2): 211–232. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Schutz, A.
1967The phenomenology of the social world. Northwestern University Press. Google Scholar
Searle, J.R.
1969Speech acts. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Seedhouse, P.
1994Linking pedagogical purposes to linguistics patterns of interaction – the analysis of communication in the language classroom. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching 32(4): 303–320. Google Scholar
Shappell, S.A. & D.A. Wiegmann
1997A human error approach to accident investigation: The taxonomy of unsafe operations. International Journal of Aviation Psychology 7(4): 269–291. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Smith, P., A. Masterson & S.L. Smith
1999Health promotion versus disease and care: failure to establish “blissful clarity’’ in British nurse education and practice. Social Science & Medicine 48(2): 227–239. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Smith, P.R.
1995Marketing communications: an integrated approach. Kogan Page. Google Scholar
Soderpalm, E.
1979Speech errors in normal and pathological speech. LiberLaromedel/Gleerup. Google Scholar
Sodian, B. & U. Frith
1992Deception and sabotage in autistic, retarded and normal-children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines 33(3): 591–605. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Sperber, D. & D. Wilson
1986Relevance. Blackwell.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Spillner, B.
1991Error analysis: a comprehensive bibliography. John Benjamins. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Stolk, Y. & S. Ziguras et al.
1998Lowering the language barrier in an acute psychiatric setting. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 32(3): 434–440. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Swartz, S.
1992Sources of misunderstanding in interviews with psychiatric-patients. Professional Psychology-Research and Practice 23(1): 24–29. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Tannen, D.
1986That’s not what I meant! Morrow. Google Scholar
1990You just don’t understand: women and men in conversation. Morrow.  BoPGoogle Scholar
1993Gender and conversational interaction. Oxford University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
1994Talking from 9 to 5: how women’s and men’s conversational styles affect who gets heard, who gets credit, and what gets done at work. W. Morrow. Google Scholar
1996Gender and discourse. Oxford University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Troemel-Ploetz, S.
1991Review essay: selling the apolitical. Discourse & Society 2(4): 489–502. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Trognon, A. & V. Saintdizier
1999The conversational organization of misunderstandings – The case of the tutorial dialogue. Journal of Pragmatics 31(6): 787–815. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Tzanne, A.
1999Talking at cross-purposes: the dynamics of miscommunication. John Benjamins. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
1973Marxism and the philosophy of language. Seminar Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Wagner, A.
1996Say it straight or you’ll show it crooked. Industrial Society. Google Scholar
Webb, M.S.
1999Failure in communication – The common denominator. Clinics in Plastic Surgery 26(1): 41–53. Google Scholar
Weigand, E.
1999Misunderstanding: The standard case. Journal of Pragmatics 31(6): 763–785. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Weizman, E.
1999Building true understanding via apparent miscommunication: A case study. Journal of pragmatics 31(6): 837–846. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Wodak, R.
1996Disorders of discourse. Longman.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Wootton, A.J.
1975Dilemmas of discourse: controversies about the sociological interpretation of language. Allen & Unwin. Google Scholar