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Go Figure: The Strategy of Nonliteral Speech

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  • Hugo M. Mialon
  • Sue H. Mialon

Abstract

We develop a model of figurative or indirect speech, which may convey a meaning that differs from its literal meaning. The model yields analytical conditions for speech to be figurative in equilibrium and delivers a number of comparative statics results. For instance, it predicts that the likelihood of figurative speech is greater if the benefit to the listener of correctly understanding the speaker is greater. We then apply the model to analyze particular forms of indirect speech, including terseness, irony, and veiled bribery. Interestingly, the model provides a novel argument for the effectiveness of laws that strictly punish attempted bribery. (JEL D83, K42, Z13)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.

Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 186-212

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:5:y:2013:i:2:p:186-212

Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.5.2.186
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  1. Johanna Hertel & John Smith, 2013. "Not so cheap talk: costly and discrete communication," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(2), pages 267-291, August.
  2. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-83, December.
  3. Navin Kartik, 2008. "Strategic Communication with Lying Costs," 2008 Meeting Papers 350, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
  5. Farrell Joseph, 1993. "Meaning and Credibility in Cheap-Talk Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 514-531, October.
  6. OECD & Nuclear Energy Agency, 2010. "Case Law," Nuclear Law Bulletin, OECD Publishing, vol. 2010(2), pages 67-73.
  7. OECD & Nuclear Energy Agency, 2010. "Case Law," Nuclear Law Bulletin, OECD Publishing, vol. 2010(1), pages 93-102.
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