Calvin x 3

From the Best of Calvin and Hobbes site, three strips: on inattention and question-answering; on phone answering as a linguistic routine; and on indirect speech acts.

The dangers of inattention:

Entertaining that Calvin, trying to cover his bases as he returns from being Spaceman Spiff, reels off five answers to questions that Mrs. Wormwood might have asked.

Next, Calvin imitates an answering machine:

He’s got the verbal part of the routine down pat, but doesn’t quite get the point of the exercise (or chooses to ignore it).

Finally, Calvin’s mother uses an indirect speech act, asking “What are you doing?” but conveying ‘What have you done?!’, i.e., ‘You shouldn’t have done that!’


To Calvin, the answer to the question, understood literally, should have been obvious.

(Note that Calvin’s question is also rhetorical: a yes-no question conveying ‘This is some sort of trick question, right?’)


One Response to “Calvin x 3”

  1. Robert Says:

    “doesn’t quite get the point of the exercise (or chooses to ignore it).”

    The latter, surely. If we didn’t already know that about Calvin, just look at his face i the last panel.

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