Speech Act (Andrew D. Cohen)

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Speech Act (Andrew D. Cohen)

  1. 1. Speech acts Andrew D. Cohen Anita Wu 9659503 Institute of TESOL
  2. 2. Focus of the chapter <ul><li>Definition of speech acts </li></ul><ul><li>Historical overview of the field </li></ul><ul><li>Examination of research methodologies </li></ul><ul><li>Studies on the teaching of speech acts </li></ul>
  3. 3. Definition of speech acts <ul><li>A speech act is a functional unit in communication (Cohen, A.D.) </li></ul><ul><li>It’s an act that a speaker performs when making an utterance (def. from LinguaLink website) </li></ul><ul><li>According to Austin’s theory of speech acts (1962), utterances have </li></ul><ul><li>three kinds of meaning. </li></ul><ul><li>Propositional/locutionary: literal meaning of an utterance </li></ul><ul><li>Illocutionary meaning: particular intention in making the utterance </li></ul><ul><li>Perlocutionary force: production of a particular effect in the addressee </li></ul>
  4. 4. Speech acts categories: <ul><li>Representatives: speakers assert a proposition to be true, using such verbs as: affirm, believe, conclude, deny, report . </li></ul><ul><li>Directives: speaker try to make the hearer do something, with such words as: ask, beg, challenge, command, dare, invite, insist, request . </li></ul><ul><li>Commissives: the speaker commits himself (or herself) to a (future) course of action, with verbs such as: guarantee, pledge, promise, swear, vow, undertake, warrant . </li></ul><ul><li>Expressives: the speaker expresses an attitude to or about a state of affairs, using such verbs as: apologize, appreciate, congratulate, deplore, detest, regret, thank, welcome . </li></ul><ul><li>Declarations speakers alter the external status or condition of an object or situation, solely by making the utterance: I now pronounce you man and wife, I sentence you to be hanged by the neck until you be dead, I name this ship... </li></ul>
  5. 5. Speech act quiz <ul><li>Decide which type of speech act is represented by each of these statements. A) Propositional b) Illocutionary C) Perlocutionary </li></ul><ul><li>1. Your teacher says, &quot;For class tomorrow, please read pages twenty-one through forty-seven.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>2. While talking to a group of friends, you mention that you recently went to hear your favorite band play at a local club. </li></ul><ul><li>3. You and a friend are talking about a television show that you both watched the night before. You say, &quot;what did you think about Luke's reaction to Laura's news?&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>4. When you discover that the grade you got on your math exam is a &quot;B&quot;, you let out a sigh of relief. </li></ul>Resources: http://www.rdillman.com/HFCL/TUTOR/Relation/rel.ex.speechact.html
  6. 6. Empirical validation of speech act sets <ul><li>First concern of the SLA researchers is to investigate the set of realization patterns and strategies typically used by native speakers in appropriate contexts. </li></ul><ul><li>The precondition and interactional goal as well as performative and semantic formulas for realization the goals need to be determined. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Speech act sets (i.e. apology) <ul><li>An expression that speakers use contain a performative verb (e.g. apologize, excuse, be sorry) </li></ul><ul><li>The speaker indirectly commit the offence with use of an explanation/account of the situation. </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledgement of responsibility. </li></ul><ul><li>An offer of repair. (i.e. bid to take an action; provide payment) </li></ul><ul><li>A promise of nonrecurrence. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Sociocultural and sociolinguistic abilities <ul><li>Sociocultural ability refers to the respondents’ skill at selecting speech act strategies which are appropriate given (1)the culture involved, (2) the age and the sex of the speaker, (3) their social class and occupations, and (4) their roles and status in the interaction. </li></ul><ul><li>Sociolinguistic ability refers to the respondents’ skill at selecting appropriate linguistic forms (i.e. register) in order to express the particular strategy used to realize the speech act. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Selecting the appropriate speech act strategy and the forms for realizing it <ul><li>The process is complex since it is conditioned by social, cultural, situational and personal factors. </li></ul>age culture Social distance Social status Selection factors
  10. 10. Methods for collecting speech act data <ul><li>Production of speech acts: </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. observation, naturally occurring data, role play, discourse completion tasks, verbal report interview </li></ul><ul><li>Perception of speech acts: </li></ul><ul><li>Recent studies have looked at group reaction to </li></ul><ul><li>videotaped role play or screen play using </li></ul><ul><li>questionnaire and verbal report interviews based </li></ul><ul><li>on review of naturally occurring data. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Methods for collecting speech act data (cont’d) <ul><li>Multimethod approach: </li></ul>Ideal cycle of data collection Observation Role play Perception Questionnaire Discourse completion task Verbal report interview
  12. 12. Naturally occurring data <ul><li>Advantages: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Spontaneous </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The data reflect what spkers say rather than what they think they would say </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The pskers are reacting to a natural situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Real-world consequences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Disadvantages : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May not occur often </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proficiency and gender are not easy to control </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Time-consuming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recording may be intrusive; note-taking rely on memory </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Naturally occurring data versus discourse completion task <ul><li>Hartford and Bardovi-Harlig (1992) study compared data of the two from NS and NNS on rejections of advice. </li></ul><ul><li>Results indicate that DCT elicited a narrower range of semantic formulas, fewer status-provoking strategies, and none of the extended negotiations found in the natural data. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Verbal report interview <ul><li>The production of speech acts: </li></ul><ul><li>1. interview on DCT answers (Motti, 1987) </li></ul><ul><li>2. record think aloud process and then interview (Robinson, 1991) </li></ul><ul><li>3. Cohen and Olshtain (1993) recorded fifteen advanced EFL lrners’ role play with NS in six given speech act situations followed by an interview. </li></ul><ul><li>The perception of speech act : </li></ul><ul><li>1. Creese (1991) and Zuskin (1993) studies used prompt from naturally occurring data or videotaped materials for NNS and NS to interpret </li></ul><ul><li>2. Most studies aimed to find the cross cultural differences on speech act perceptions </li></ul>
  15. 15. Review of empirical studies: Apologies <ul><li>Research on production: </li></ul><ul><li>Frescura (1993) coded data from role plays according to a taxonomy comprising semantic formulas in 2 categories: hearer-supportive formulas and self-supportive formulas. </li></ul><ul><li>Complainees choose to support the face of the complainer by … </li></ul><ul><li>Admit their own guilt </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize others rights </li></ul><ul><li>Offer compensation </li></ul><ul><li>Complianee choose to save their own face by… </li></ul><ul><li>Deny guilt </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal to others’ leniency </li></ul><ul><li>Provide an explanation </li></ul>
  16. 16. Apologies (cont’d) <ul><li>Research on perception of apologies: </li></ul><ul><li>Edmundson (1992) looked at the semantic formulas in apologies, including the ways of interpretation, the cues being used and the rules needed to interpretation. </li></ul>findings Women rely more on lexical cues to judge the sincerity; men rely on both lexical, paralinguistic (nonverbal) and prosodic cues equally. Subjects use mostly prosodic cues (i.e. intonation and word stress) to judge the sincerity of an apology. And appropriateness of apologies was rated according to its level of sincerity.
  17. 17. Refusals <ul><li>Three follow-up studies (1987, 1990 &1991) investigated the refusals by NS and Japanese ESL and EFL learners. </li></ul><ul><li>Results indicated the (negative) transfer existed in both ESL and EFL contexts. </li></ul><ul><li>Excuses are common for both language, but American ones in English were more specific. </li></ul><ul><li>Verbal report in Robinson(1991) study showed how sociocultural factors constraint Japanese women to say no since they are brought up to say yes. </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Situation : Concert Ticket Your classmate, Tony, plays in a jazz band. He is going to have a concert soon and he asks you to buy a ticket to it. You really do not want to go because it will cost you $23 and you feel this is too expensive. </li></ul><ul><li>What are the appropriate refusals you would say to your friend? </li></ul>
  19. 19. Rejections <ul><li>Hartford and Bardovi-Harling (1991, 1992, 1993) conducted a series of studies on rejections of advice and found that… </li></ul><ul><li>☺ NS are able to reject an adviser’s suggestion while maintaining the status balance, while NNS are less predictably to do so. </li></ul><ul><li>☺ NNS used more semantic formulas to realize each rejection and made more rejections; NS made more than twice as often as they rejected advice. </li></ul>1. Explanations 2. Alternatives 3. Rejections
  20. 20. Compliments <ul><li>Olshtain and Weinbach (1988) looked at 330 Israeli & 330 American responses on DCT and found five forms of response: </li></ul><ul><li>1. reinforcing the compliment </li></ul><ul><li>2. simply thanking the complimenter </li></ul><ul><li>3. agree with it </li></ul><ul><li>4. justify it </li></ul><ul><li>5. express surprise </li></ul><ul><li>Israelis accepted a compliment with greater difficulty than Americans. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Complaints <ul><li>DeCapua (1988) study showed ♀made more requests for repairs than♂ </li></ul><ul><li>Boxer (1993) study indicated that ♀ mostly commiserated with indirect complaints; ♂were prone to contradict or to give advice. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s ok.  Don’t worry about it. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s ok.  Accidents happen. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s ok.  It’s not like you meant to do it. </li></ul>Indirect complaint Remarks Strategies combination <ul><li>Do/ Don’t do X </li></ul><ul><li>Can (Could) I/you X… </li></ul><ul><li>I’d like to X… </li></ul><ul><li>I was wondering if I/you can (could) X… </li></ul>Request for repair
  22. 22. Requests <ul><li>Fukushima and Iwata(1987) compared strategies used in requesting and found similar formulas in Japanese and English: </li></ul><ul><li>1.apology  reason  request, </li></ul><ul><li>2.address term  request  reason, </li></ul><ul><li>3.address term and/or apology  reason </li></ul><ul><li>Can you think of any examples? </li></ul><ul><li>Are these orders similar to our way of requesting? </li></ul>
  23. 23. The acquisition of speech acts <ul><li>The classroom lacked the conditions for the whole range of sociolinguistic needs even though it fostered interpersonal and expressive needs . </li></ul>
  24. 24. The teaching of speech acts <ul><li>The findings from a cross-cultural study by Cohen, Olshtain, and Rosenstein (1986) showed that NNS lacked sensitivity to certain sociolinguistic distinction that NS make…. </li></ul><ul><li>For example: </li></ul><ul><li>excuse me vs. sorry </li></ul><ul><li>really sorry vs. very sorry </li></ul><ul><li>Acquisition of nativelike production by nonnative speakers may take many years. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Implication for language teacher, the learner, and the language classroom <ul><li>Diagnostic assessment is often the first step which helps the teacher determine the students’ level of awareness of speech acts in general. </li></ul><ul><li>Model dialogues are a useful way to present students with examples of the speech act in use. </li></ul><ul><li>The evaluation of a situation is a useful technique to further reinforce the learners’ awareness of the factors affecting the choice of semantic formulas. </li></ul><ul><li>Role-play activities are particularly suitable for practicing the use of speech acts. </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback and discussion are useful activities for speech act teaching because students need to talk about their perceptions & awareness. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Quiz answer <ul><li>1. PERLOCUTIONARY The teacher intends to affect your behavior. Speech by which the speaker attempts to get someone else to do something is a perlocutionary act. </li></ul><ul><li>2.PROPOSITIONAL You are making a reference to the band and its performance at the club. Speech by which the speaker points out the existence of something is a propositional act. </li></ul><ul><li>3. ILLOCUTIONARY You are inviting your friend to respond to your question. Speech by which the speaker attempts to interact with someone else is an illocutionary act. </li></ul><ul><li>4. UTTERANCE You are not trying to communicate anything to anyone. When people make sounds without intending to convey meaning, they engage in utterance. </li></ul>

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