This paper is dedicated to Gerd Fritz. We worked together at the University of Giessen for more than ten years, and during that time we cooperated on all levels of academic life. We were active in university politics working closely together to create a new course of studies and a new professorship; we cooperated in teaching by co-teaching a seminar on modality in German and in English and by co-supervising a PhD candidate; and we cooperated in our research by co-organizing a public lecture series on “Dialogformen im Wandel der Zeit” and a conference on “Historical Dialogue Analysis”, and by co-editing two volumes resulting from these events, to mention only the most memorable examples in each field. I am grateful to Gerd for all the things I have learnt from him, for the many stimulating discussions we had, and for his friendship.

This paper has its origin in a seminar that I taught at the University of Zurich in the spring semester 2008 under the title “Speech Act Theory and Pragmatic Research: The Case of Compliments”. In this seminar we tried out the different methods of data collection and data analysis that have so far been proposed in the relevant literature on compliments (for the result of one of these see Patterns – Field – Philological). I thank all the members of this seminar for their cooperation, for the lively discussions and for all their critical questions. On many occasions they insisted on opinions that differed from mine. I learnt a lot in my attempts to stand my corner and defend my own positions about the value of individual research methods and other matters.

And last but not least I want to thank Daniela Landert, who prepared the hypertext version of this paper.