Speech Act Theory. Classifications of speech acts.



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Speech Act Theory. Classifications of speech acts.



 

A SPEECH ACT (SA) is the production of a sentence, ‘sentence representative’, or sentencoid under certain conditions. Linguists generally regard a speech act as a basic minimal unit of PRAGMATIC analysis.

 

CRITERIA FOR SPEECH ACT CLASSIFICATIONS

1. According to their origin:

a) primary (or natural) speech acts are necessary for any kind of human interaction.

b) secondary (or institutional) speech acts are specific for a certain institution, for example, for school instruction, courtroom investigation, political debate, commercial advertising, etc.

 

Institutions can bring into life new types of speech acts, for example, the giving of a verdict, the opening of a meeting, etc. On the other hand, institutions can modify primary speech acts. Thus, an examination question is different from a question in everyday communication.

2. According to their function:

 

a) initiating speech acts - questions or requests

b) reacting speech acts - confirmations or answers

 

The differentiation of initiating and reacting speech acts is not an easy task because most speech acts perform both functions in the process of communication.

 

CLASSIFICATION

J. L. AUSTIN (the founder of the speech act theory) distinguishes three kinds of speech acts:

a) locutionary acts is an act of saying something in the full sense of the word say.

 

b) illocutionary acts is an act performed in saying something. It realizes the intent of die speaker, such as asking or answering a question, giving some information or an assurance or a warning, announcing a verdict or an intention, pronouncing sentence, making an appointment or an appeal or a criticism, and so on.

 

c) perlocutionary acts is an act performed as a result of saying. Here we deal with the effects of the communication on the addressee. For example, by making a promise a speaker may reassure and create expectations in his audience.

 

We may always deny that a particular perlocutionary act was intended by saying things like:

Didn't mean to embarrass you.

I was simply stating a fact.

 

THE PRODUCT OF A SPEECH ACT IS AN UTTERANCE

In issuing an utterance, the speaker performs the three acts simultaneously.

 

J. R SEARLE (speech act classification)

commissive declarative directive expressive representative
a speech act that commits the speaker to doing something in the future, such as a promise or a threat. a speech act which changes the state of affairs in the world. a speech act that has the function of getting the listener to do something, such as a suggestion, a request, or a command. a speech act in which the speaker expresses feelings and attitudes about something, such as an apology, a complaint, or to thank someone, to congratulate someone. a speech act which describes states or events in the world, such as an assertion, a claim, a report.
Ex.: If you don't stop fighting I'll call the police, (threat) I'll take you to the movies tomorrow. (promise) Ex.: During the wedding ceremony the act of marriage is performed when the phrase I now pronounce you man and wife is uttered. Ex.: Please sit down. Why don f you close the window. Ex.: The meal was delicious. Ex.: This is a German car. (the assertion)

Indirect speech acts.

INDIRECT SPEECH ACTS when a sentence characterized by formal features of some pragmatic type in speech acquires illocutionary power of sentences of another type.

Indirect speech acts are commonly used to reject proposals and to make requests.

Ex.:

A speaker asks, "Would you like to meet me for coffee?" and another replies, “I have class.”

The second speaker used an indirect speech act to reject the proposal. This is indirect because the literal meaning of "/ have class" does not entail any sort of rejection.

TYPICAL CASES

Types: constativeoffertive   quesitiverequestive   constativerequestive   Examples: It is rather cool here. (Please close the window.) Do you have any cash on you? (Please lend me some.) There is some chocolate on the tea table. (Have some.)    

 

A sentence used transpositionally still retains its original meaning. The two meanings co-exist, the indirect one being layered upon the original one.

 

 



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