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speech act theory in semantics

semantics

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speech act theory in semantics

  1. 1. By: Aseel kadhum Mahmood 13th , April, 2014 Speech acts theory in semantics
  2. 2. Introduction11 Austin’s speech act theory22 Direct & indirect speech act33 Politeness in speech act44 Contents Politeness in speech act55
  3. 3. Introduction Learning to communicate in a language involves more than acquiring the pronunciation and grammar. We need to learn how to ask question, make suggestion, greet and thank other speakers. In other words we need to learn the uses to which utterances are conventionally put in the new language community and how these uses are signaled. The terminology of such function of language is called speech acts (J.L. Austin,1975). Communication function rely on the knowledge of social convention &specific knowledge of local context of utterance ( Saed, 2003:220). 0
  4. 4. Characteristics of speech acts In discussing speech acts we are examining the union of linguistic and social behavior. There are two important characteristics of speech acts:
  5. 5. Characteristics of speech acts  Whether there is a match between a grammar form of speech function we can identify a sentence type. Saed sets differences between the two as below:
  6. 6. Austin speech act theory • Austin’s work in many respects a reaction to some traditional and influential attitudes to language. The attitudes can be said to involve three related assumptions as follows:
  7. 7. Austin speech act theory • Although some of these assumptions are discernible in recent formal approaches to semantics, they are associated with the philosophers known as logical positivists, a term originally applied to the mathematicians and philosophers of the Vienna Circle; • in terms of how far the meaning of a sentence is reducible to its verifiability, i.e. the extent to which, and by which, it can be shown to be true or false. • Austin’s opposition to these views is:
  8. 8. Austin speech act theory Performative utterances: are sentences that they were in themselves a kind of action, they perform the action named by the first verb rather than describing it in the sentence, and we can insert the adverb hereby to stress this function, e.g. I hereby request that you leave my properly. We can contrast performative and non-performative verbs by: e.g. I cook this cake. ?hereby cook this cake. A speaker would not, expect the uttering a sentence to constitute the action They describe actions independent of the linguistic act.
  9. 9. Evaluating performative utterances o It is not useful to ask if a perfromative utterance is true or false, just if they work or not. They have to be felicitous, felicity requires satisfying social conventions. Austin named these conditions as felicity conditions are either formal or informal. o Austin (1975:25-38). Wrote a general schema:
  10. 10. Explicit & implicit performatives • They tend to begin with a first person verb in a form This verb belongs to a special class describing verbal activities • Generally their performative nature can be emphasized by in asserting the adverb hereby. • explicit performatives are seen as merely a specialized subset of performatives whose nature as speech acts is more unambiguous than most. • An utterance’s ability to be expanded to an explicit performative that identified it as a performative utterance • the mood of the verb, auxiliary verbs, intonation, etc. • It focuses attention on the task of classifying the performative verbs of a language (Austin 1975: 53—93) a. You are (hereby) charged with treason. b. Passengers are requested to avoid jumping out of the c. Five pounds says he doesn’t make the semi-final. D. Come out, and see me sometime. a. I (hereby) charge you with treason. b. We request that passengers avoid jumping out of the aircraft. c. I bet you five pounds that he doesn’t make the semi-final. d. I invite you to come up and see me sometime.
  11. 11. Statements as performatives  Austin’s original position was that performatives (stating) subject to felicity conditions, are to be contrasted with declarative sentences (constatives) which are potentially true or false descriptions of situations (Schiffrin,1994: 50—4).  In simple terms, Austin argued that there is no theoretically sound way to distinguish between performatives and constatives. E.g. The king of France is bald.  All utterances constitute speech acts of one kind or another. For some the type of act is explicitly marked by their containing a verb labeling an act.  Some speech acts are so universal and fundamental that their grammaticalization is the profound one of the distinction into sentence types.Sentence is a basic marker of primary performative types. This conclusion that all utterances have a speech act force has led to a widespread view that there are two basic parts to meaning: the conventional caning of the sentence (often described as a proposition) and the speaker’s tended speech act.(Sadock and Zwicky , l985: 160).
  12. 12. Three facets of speech act Kreidler (1998) concludes that what is said - the utterance, can be called the locution. What the speaker intends to communicate to the addressee is the illocution. The message that the addressee gets, his interpretation of what the speaker says, is the perlocution. If communication is successful, the illocution and the perlocution are alike or nearly alike.
  13. 13. Categorizing speech act o J. R. Searle (1976: 10—16) proposed that all acts fall into five main types: 1) REPRESENTATIVES, which commit the speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition (paradigm cases: asserting, concluding); 2) DIRECTIVES, which are attempts by the speaker to get the address see to do something (paradigm cases: requesting, questioning); 3) COMMISSIVES, which commit the speaker to some future course of action (paradigm cases: promising, threatening, offering); 4) EXPRESSIVES, which express a psychological state (paradigm cases: thanking, apologizing, welcoming, congratulating); 5) DECLARATIOIS, which effect immediate changes in the institutional state of affairs and which tend to rely on elaborate extra linguistic institutions (paradigm cases: excommunicating, declaring war, christening, marrying, firing from employment). o Searle uses a mix of criteria to establish these different typesincluding the act’s illocutionary point; the content of the act the psychological state of the speaker ‘fit’ with the world
  14. 14. Categorizing speech act The first step was to point out that in some cases the same Kreidler (1998:183) presents different categorization 1. Assertive utterence: states that in the assertive function speakers and writers use language to tell what they know or believe; assertive language is concerned with facts. The purpose is to inform. It’s devided into two, there are direct and indirect assertive. Direct assertive utterance start with I or we and an assertive verb. Indirect assertive utterances also include assertive verbs. Assertive verb include allege, announce, agree, report, remind, predict, protest. 2. Performative utterance: Speech acts that bring about the state of affairs they name are called performative. Performative utterances are valid if spoken by someone whose right to make them is accepted and in circumstances which are accepted as appropriate. The verbs include bet, declare, baptize, name, nominate, pronounce. the subject of the sentence the verb must be in the present tense Speaker authority and circumstance s
  15. 15. Categorizing speech act 3. Veridictive utterances: are speech acts in which the speaker makes an assessment or judgment about the acts of another, usually the addressee. These include ranking, assessing, appraising, condoning. 4. Expressive utterance: springs from the previous actions—or failure to act—of the speaker, or perhaps the present result of those actions or failures. Expressive utterances are thus retrospective and speaker-involved. The most common expressive verbs (in this sense of ‘expressive’) are: acknowledge, admit, confess, deny, apologize. 5. Directive Utterance:Directive utterances are those in which the speaker tries to get the addressee to perform some act or refrain from performing an act. Thus a directive utterance has the pronoun you as actor, whether that word is actually present in the utterance or not. one cannot tell other people to do something in the past. Like other kinds of utterances, a directive utterance presupposes certain conditions in the addressee and in the context of situation. Three kinds of directive utterances can be recognized: commands, requests and suggestions.
  16. 16. Categorizing speech act 6. Commisive Utterance: Speech acts that commit a speaker to a course of action are called commissive utterances. These include promises, pledges, threats and vows. Commissive verbs are illustrated by agree, ask, offer, refuse, swear, all with following infinitives. They are prospective and concerned with the speaker’s commitment to future action. A commissive predicate is one that can be used to commit oneself (or refuse to commit oneself) to some future action. The subject of the sentence is therefore most likely to be I or we. Further, the verb must be in the present tense and there is some addressee, whether the utterance shows it or not, since the speaker must be making a commitment to somebody. 7. Phatic utterance: Phatic utterance is to establish rapport between members of the same society. Phatic language has a less obvious function than the six types discussed above but it is no less important. Phatic utterances include greetings, farewells, polite formulas such as “Thankyou,” “You’re welcome,” “Excuse me” when these are not really verdictive or expressive.
  17. 17. Felicity conditions Searl developed felicity conditions for an act which are Preparatory, Propositional, Sincerity& Essential: Conditions for promising (Searle 1969: 62ff.) [where S = speaker, H = hearer, A = the future action, P the proposition expressed in the speech act, e = the linguistic expression] Conditions for questioning (Searle 1969: 66) [where S = speaker, H hearer, P = the proposition expressed in the speech act] L = J a. Preparatory 1: H would prefer S’s doing A to his not doing A and S believes H would prefer S’s doing A to not doing A. b. Preparatory 2: It is not obvious to both S and H that S will do A in the normal course of events. c. Propositional: In expressing that P, S predicates a future act A of S. d. Sincerity: S intends to do A. e. Essential: the utterance e counts as an undertaking to do A. •One normally does not promise what would happen. •Proposition is something of the speaker that has already happened can not be predicted. a. Preparatory 1: S does not know the answer, i.e. for a yes/no question, does not know whether P is true or false; for an elicit ative or WH-question, does-not know the missing information. b. Preparatory 2: It is not obvious to both S and H that H will provide the information at that time without being asked. c. Propositional: Any proposition or propositional function. d. Sincerity: S wants this information. e. Essential: The act counts as an attempt to elicit this information from H. •These questions only belong to prototypical, they cannot apply to theoretical questions nor to the questions of a teacher. •Propositional condition say that there are no semantic restrictions on the content of question of speech act. •There is linguistic marking supported by contextual information of correlation between form and function. •Still there are a couple of problems associated with recognizing a sentence type and matching it: 1. how to cope with cases where what seems to be conventional associated between a sentence form &illocutionary force is overridden. 2. difficulties in identifying sentence type.
  18. 18. Indirect speech act • The conventionally expected function is known as the direct speech act (interrogative )and the extra actual function is termed the indirect speech act (questioning). • According to Searl (1975) whether the hearers are only conscious of indirect or whether they have both available to choose the indirect as most contextually apt. He answers by saying that speaker have access to both literal (direct and nonliteral(non-direct)use of speech acts E.g. can you pass the salt? Please pass the salt. • When one of these sentences is uttered with primary locutionary point of a directive, the literal illocutionary act is also formed (1975:70) • Searl relies on system of felicity conditions in working literal but not all non- literal acts. • Searl argues that other sentence can only work when they address the conditions for request. Indirect speech act work because they are systematically related to the structure of the associated direct act , they are tied to one or another of the act’s felicity conditions.
  19. 19. Understanding indirect speech act • Searl states that to understand indirect speech act we combine our knowledge of three elements to support a chain of inference • There is a certain degree of conventionality in using forms like can you, or conversational postulates :shortcuts employed by speakers, they are often used when the speaker is encouraged to search for an indirect speech act. • They reduce the amount of speech involved in tracing the indirect act. • The postulated can be seen as reflection of conventionally of some indirect actsIndirect speech act involve postulation, there is a view that they are idioms involving no inference. • This view is cut by common-sense that hearers decide to be uncooperative , there is also a psychological evidence that hearers have access to direct act in indirect requests which proves that direct speech acts are understood more quickly and that hearers seem to have access to the literal meaning of indirect acts. • They suggested that literal meaning of indirect act is important in politeness
  20. 20. The concept of politeness  Searl since conversational requirements of politeness normally make it awkward to issue flat impressive statement, we seek indirect act to illocutionary end. In indirective, politeness is main motivation for indirectness  Speaker conclude social power of politeness in framing speech acts . Indirect interrogative requests are useful because they permit participants to explicitly state some condition which make compliance impossible  Politeness is often associated with the concept of face. Goffman(1967) face concept is one’s social image an individual seek to projects. While brown &levin (1978:66) claim that face is the public face image every member want to claim  Positive face express individual desire to seem worthy and deserving for approval. While negative face represent an individual’s desire to be autonomous , unimpeded by others .  Mutual interest requires participants maintain their face (in this view many verbal interactions are potential threat to face).  Searl since conversational requirements of politeness normally make it awkward to issue flat impressive statement, we seek indirect act to illocutionary end. In indirective, politeness is main motivation for indirectness  Speaker conclude social power of politeness in framing speech acts . Indirect interrogative requests are useful because they permit participants to explicitly state some condition which make compliance impossible  Politeness is often associated with the concept of face. Goffman(1967) face concept is one’s social image an individual seek to projects. While brown &levin (1978:66) claim that face is the public face image every member want to claim  Positive face express individual desire to seem worthy and deserving for approval. While negative face represent an individual’s desire to be autonomous , unimpeded by others .  Mutual interest requires participants maintain their face (in this view many verbal interactions are potential threat to face).
  21. 21. The concept of politeness
  22. 22. Sentence type  Sentence type is a conversational matching between grammatical form and speech act, Some languages has a question contrast with declarative speech act. Saed (2003:237) introduce the idea of classifiers that marks the distinction between different verbal inflections for person etc.  The problem with marking by special words can be used for a variety of semantic distinctions. Sadock and Zwicky(1985:167) suggested some rule thumb for identifying sentences:
  23. 23. References: • Saeed, J. I. (2003). Semantics.2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers • Kreidler, C. W. (1998). Introducing English semantics. London: Routledge • Searle, J.R. (1969). Speech Acts: an essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: University Press. • Austin, J.L. 1962. How to Do Things with Words. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. • Brown, P. and Levinson, s.( 1978/1987) politeness. Some universal in language usage. 2nd edition. Cambridge university press. • Schiffrin, D. (1994). Approaches to discourse. Oxford:Blackwell. • Sadock, Jerrold M., & Zwicky, Arnold M. (1985). Speech Acts Distinctions in Syntax. Cambridge University Press. • D. Wagiman Adisutrisno. (2008). MULTIPLE CHOICE ENGLISH GRAMMAR TEST ITEMS THAT AID ENGLISH GRAMMAR LEARNING FOR STUDENTS OF ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE. Institute of Research and Community Outreach - Petra Christian University. • Searl,J, R(1976) the classification of illocutionary acts. Language in society 5:1-23 reprinted in J,R searl, ecpression and meaning:studies in the theory of speech acts, 1979.Cambridge: Cambridge university press, 1-29. • Searl, J, R (1975): indirect speech acts: in peter cole and jerry morgan (eds) syntax and semnatics, vol.3 speech acts, 59-82. Newyork: Academic press. • Lyons, j (1995) Linguistic semantics: An introduction.Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. • Lyons, I (1977) sematics. Cambridge and newyork: cambridge university press.
  24. 24. Questions?

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