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speech act theory

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Sharlhyn Tolentino

on 3 December 2012

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Transcript of speech act theory

Speech Act Theory John Searle Speech act theory is built on the foundation laid by Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Langshaw Austin. Searle’s achievement, now, was to give substance to Austin’s idea of a general theory of speech and providing a theoretical framework within which the three dimensions of utterance, meaning and action involved in speech acts could be seen as being unified together. Language, as used in ordinary life, is a language game because it consists of rules. In other words, people follow rules to do things with the language. to understand language one must understand the speaker’s intention The speech act is the basic unit of language used to express meaning, an utterance that expresses an intention. Normally, the speech act is a sentence, but it can be a word or phrase as long as it follows the rules necessary to accomplish the intention. When one speaks, one performs an act. Speech act stresses the intent of the act as a whole. According to Searle, understanding the speaker’s intention is essential to capture the meaning Types of Speech Act 1.Locutionary act: saying something with a certain meaning in traditional sense. This may not constitute a speech act. a.utterance acts - where something is said (or a sound is made) and which may not have any meaning Example: Oh! - is an utterance (note that communication is not intended - it is just a sound caused by surprise) b.propositional acts - where a particular reference is made
- referring is a type of propositional act Example: The black cat - is a propositional act (something is referenced, but no communication may be intended) 2.Illocutionary act: the performance of an act in saying something
: the idea of an illocutionary act can be captured by emphasizing that
"by saying something, we do something" Examples: informing, ordering, warning, undertaking. promises, questions
: when someone issues an order to someone to go by saying "Go!"
: when a minister joins two people in marriage saying,
"I now pronounce you husband and wife." 3. Perlocutionary acts: Speech acts that have an effect on the feelings, thoughts or actions of either the speaker or the listener. In other words, they seek to change minds! Unlike locutionary acts, perlocutionary acts are external to the performance.

Examples: inspiring, persuading or deterring. I identified five classifications of illocutionary/perlocutionary speech acts: 1.assertives = speech acts that commit a speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition
Example: reciting a creed 2.directives = speech acts that are to cause the hearer to take a particular action.

Examples: requests, commands and advice 3.commissives = speech acts that commit a speaker to some future action

Examples: promises and oaths 4.expressives = speech acts that express the speaker's attitudes and emotions towards the proposition

Examples: congratulations, excuses and thanks 5.declaratives = speech acts that change the reality in accord with the proposition of the declaration
Examples: baptisms, pronouncing someone guilty or pronouncing someone husband and wife Searle believes that speakers perform acts by observing two types of rules: 1.constitutive rules or definition rules- create or define new forms of behavior
2.regulative or behavior rules- these rules govern types of behavior that already exist. Other Examples:
The black cat is stupid - is an assertive illocutionary act (it intends to communicate).
Please find the black cat - is a directive perlocutionary act (it seeks to change behaviour). End...
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