Discourse Analysis

‘There’s two types of favors, the big favor and the small favor. You can measure the size of the favor by the pause that a person takes after they ask you to “Do me a favor.” Small favor – small pause. “Can you do me a favor, hand me that pencil.” No pause at all. Big favors are, “Could you do me a favor …” Eight seconds go by. “Yeah? What?”

“… well.” The longer it takes them to get to it, the bigger the pain it’s going to be.

Humans are the only species that do favors. Animals don’t do favors. A lizard doesn’t go up to a cockroach and say, “Could you do me a favor and hold still, I’d like to eat you alive.” That’s a big favor even with no pause.

Seinfeld (1993)’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 141