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Ten Things XP Teams Say

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Communication relies on context as well as message; without this shared understanding, customers and programmers will miscommunicate. In this article, William C. Wake lists 10 common statements and tells us what they really mean.
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Introduction

XP teams have their own way of doing certain things. Part of this reality is that there are certain things you'll hear an XP team say that have special meaning.

One way to look at what people say is to consider whether the statements are true or false. But there's another approach to evaluating speech known as speech act theory, with roots in the philosophy of Wittgenstein. (See Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores' Understanding Computers and Cognition [Addison-Wesley, 1995, ISBN 0-201-11297-3], for an introduction.)

Speech act theory views statements as moves in a language game. Some moves are requests for action, others are statements of fact, and still others are declarations. Declarations are an interesting case; they're statements where the act of making the statement makes it true. For example, a minister saying, "I now pronounce you husband and wife" makes it true by the statement.

In XP (or any team), there are speeches that represent important events. This article looks at some statements that people make, considering exactly what they mean. They don't necessarily logically imply their full meaning, because they rely on a team's shared understanding.

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