Forget Yu-Gi-Oh! I found a better example.
Since I don’t own either a car or a slave and since I live right above a supermarket, I shop often and in small quantities. So, every time I get out of the building and every time I have to buy something, I pass in front of the supermarket. Most of the times, at the entrance there’s this man. He’s incredibly jumpy all the time, smiling and jovial. He smokes, has very thin legs and his clothes are shabby. There are two things you immediately notice. First, he always has a stash of magazines in his left hand. The magazines are not different from one another; it is a bulk of 20-30 magazines of the same kind. Second, he greets people. Yes, he greets the persons that go in and out: “Hello! How are you doing?”, “Have a nice evening, buh-bye!”, and with the more common customers, “Ah, nice to see you again Joris! Niiice jacket” etc. I’ve been told he’s been doing this for around three years.
Now, if I were a writer I would probably be able to build up some narrative anticipation around this guy. You might anyway ask yourself: What is it with this guy? (I did, and it took me a while to figure it out) Here’s the point: the guy is a beggar. He begs, this is his job; he’s there as often as he can but in any case regularly, he has work to do, and he gets money, food or beer.
There are, I think, many interesting linguistic questions that pertain to this guy and I’ll refer to them in a bit. But there is one, a not-necessarily-linguistic one which beats all others: How did this guy come up with the idea? I would suggest that he must have had a very acute sociological judgment. He must have observed, for instance, that people don’t really like beggars, that beggars are even generally avoided if not despised. He also must have observed that beggars must make a sort of compromise: the spot chosen must be sufficiently busy so that it’s not a waste of time and sufficiently remote – or away from the city center – so that police doesn’t pick you up every other day. He must also have observed that there’s this “free magazine” and “free newspapers” business going on. He must also know that if the police stops by, he can say: What? I’m helping people get their free magazine, I’m being nice, I know most of them
As for the linguistic question, we can fit them under one umbrella question: In what way does the context influence his speech acts? He is greeting people, remember? How does “Hello!” turn into “Please give me 50 cents”? Still a linguistic question: What influences his pragmatic choice? Why does he say “Hello!” (which might even be misunderstood, and I have witnessed the surprised walker’s “uhm… hello…!?”) and not “Please give me 50 cents”? Still a linguistic question: What kind of inferences do the people that give him money and food make? How do they get from “Nice jacket” to “Ok, here’s a beer” and how familiar must they be with the overall picture?
I think this is a wonderful example of an institution (that of begging) influencing linguistic behavior (the speech act of greeting). Also, this passes so naturally, that all of the people I have asked what they think about the guy said without blinkging: “He’s begging!”