Title: The communicative acts of sympathy and condolence in English and Bulgarian – pragmalinguistic aspects


Vol. 8(3), 2020, pp. 23-35.

DOI: 10.46687/SILC.2020.v08i03.002


Author: Deyana Peneva

About the author: Assistant Professor Deyana Peneva, PhD is a lecturer in the English Studies Department, Faculty of Humanities at Konstantin Preslavsky University of Shumen, Bulgaria. She holds lectures in Phonetics; Speech acts in English and Bulgarian; Linguistic models and strategies in spoken interaction with BA students in English studies and Applied Linguistics as well as seminars in Practical English (written practice, translation). Additionally, she takes lectures in Tour-guide practicing in MA programme English language for Business and Tourism. Her interests are in the area of Semantics; Cross-cultural Pragmatics; Speech acts; Discourse analysis; Spoken English and Phonetics.




Citation (APA style): Peneva, D. (2020). The communicative acts of sympathy and condolence in English and Bulgarian – pragmalinguistic aspects. Studies in Linguistics, Culture, and FLT, 8(3), 23-35. doi: 10.46687/SILC.2020.v08i03.002




Abstract: The present paper dwells on the speech acts of sympathy and condolence in English and Bulgarian and more precisely, on a set of certain phrases typical for both languages which reveal disparities in their grammatical, semantic and pragmatic structures. In particular, a distinction is made between two main phrases, namely, My sympathies [+/- complement] and My condolences [+/- complement] in two sets of modern TV series (Bulgarian and British). It investigates the communicative acts into the group of expressive speech acts which can manifest a specific psychological state and attitude on the part of the speaker. The article also sheds light on the way native speakers of English use sympathy and condolence in utterances in comparison with their counterparts in Bulgarian with regards to their illocutionary nature. A further point of examination and speculation is the context of the speech situation, which in turn, may reveal cultural and psychological distinctions in a cross-linguistic study.


Key words: condolence, pragmatics, illocutionary force, speech act, sympathy



Austin J. L. 1962. How to do things with words. Oxford University Press, London. 

Bach H. 1979. Linguistic communication and speech acts. Pragmatic Transfer. Second language Research. 8. MIT Press., Cambridge, Mass, pp. 203-231.

Bach K. 2012. Speech Acts. Retrieved from

Baerman B. 2015. The Morpheme. Oxford University Press, Surrey.

Biber D. and Conrad S. 2001. Quantitative corpus-based research: Much more than bean counting. TESOL Quarterly. 35(2): 331-336.

Jadhav A. 2013. Condolence Phrases. html.

 Makice K. 2009. Phatics and the design of community. Proceedings of the 27th international conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems. Boston, MA, USA.

Muhammed S. E. 2013. Condolences in English. Journal of Kerbala University. 11(4), Humanities.

Schmied J. 1993. Qualitative and quantitative research approaches to English relative constructions. Souter C. and Atwell E. (Eds.). Corpus-based computational linguistics. Rodopi, Amsterdam, pp. 85-96.

Searle J. R. 1975. Indirect speech acts. Syntax and semantics Vol. 3. Speech acts. Academic Press, New York, San Francisco, London, pp. 59-78.

Turnbull W. 2003. Language in action: Psychological models of conversation. International Series in Social Psychology. Routledge, pp. 56-57.

Vanderveken D. 1990. Meaning and Speech Acts. Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 

Yule G. 2006. The study of language. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 45-49. 3rd Edn.

Zunin L. M. and Zunin H.  S. 2007. The art of condolence. What to write, what to say, what to do at a time of a loss. Harper Collins Publishers Ltd., London.

Ницолова Р. 2008. Българска граматика. Морфология. Университетско издателство Климент Охридски, София.

Славянова Л. 2017. Анализ на речевите етикетни единици за поднасяне на съболезнования в английския и българския език. LiterNet, 07.04.2017, № 4 (209).