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Speech acts

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Speech acts

  1. 1. SPEECH ACTSAND EVENTS SPEECH ACTS(AUSTIN, 1962)
  2. 2. Only if a sentence can be verified as truthful or false it is meaningful… Subjective statements like the one below would then be meaningless..  a. shouting and screaming at your children is wrong.  b. Elizabeth is more beautiful than Mary.  Getting married and having children is better than… (Huang, 2007)
  3. 3. Sentences like:  Good morning!  Is she a vegan?  Put the car in the garage, please…are not statements, therefore cannot be either trueor false…
  4. 4.  I bet you sixpence it will rain tomorrow. I hereby christen this ship the H.M.S. Flounder. I declare war on Zanzibar. I apologize. I dub thee Sir Walter I object. I sentence you to ten years of hard labour. I bequeath you my Raffael I give my word I warn you that trespassers will be prosecuted.
  5. 5.  UTTERANCES USED TO DO THINGS ARE CALLED ‘PERFORMATIVE”…. “CONSTATIVES” UTTERANCES USED TO STATE THINGS…
  6. 6. h People do not only produce utterances containing grammatical structures and words, they perform actions via those utterances. (1) You`re fired.  The utterance can be used to perform the act of ending your employment. However, the actions performed by utterances do not have to be dramatic or unpleasant. (2a) You `re welcome. speech event.
  7. 7.  Actions performed via utterances are called SPEECH ACTS …(apology, complaint, promise, or request) The speaker and the hearer are helped in this process by the circumstances surrounding the utterance. These are called “Speech Events”.
  8. 8.  Inmany ways, the circumstances are the ones that determine the interpretation of the Speech Act… e.g.“The tea is really cold.”
  9. 9. Speech acts The action performed by producing an utterance will consist of three related acts: LOCUTIONARY ACTS (basic act of utterance, or producing a meaningful linguistic expression)  e.g.  The coffee tastes great.
  10. 10.  ILLOCUTIONARYACT is performed via the communicative force of an utterance The previous example might be  to invite  To offer  or simply as statement of fact
  11. 11.  PERLOCUTIONARY ACTS (we create an utterance with a function intending it to have an effect)  e.g.  The hearer, on hearing the sentence above might react by accepting a cup of coffee if Interprets the perlocutionary act.
  12. 12.  The illocutionary force of an utterance is what really counts…  “I´ll be back.” (Terminator)warningpromiseprediction
  13. 13.  Examples:Give me an apple. Locutionary act: the utterance itself. Illocutionary act: Request, command. Perlocutionary act (presumably): A passes B an apple.
  14. 14. IFIDS Or, Illocutionary Force Indicating Device The most obvious for indicating the illocutionary force is an expression shown in (6). The verb shown can be called a performative verb (Vp). 6. I (Vp) you that…
  15. 15.  Speakers sometimes perform their speech act… Him: Can I talk to Mary? Her: No, She`s not here. Him: I am asking you – can I talk to her? Her: And I am telling you – SHE IS NOT HERE!
  16. 16. OTHER IFIDS STRESS INTONATION WORD ORDER e.g. You´re going (I tell you) You´re going? (I request confirmation? Are you going? (I ask you if…)
  17. 17. FELICITY CONDITIONS APPROPRIATE CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF A SPEECH ACT TO BE RECOGNIZED AS SUCH. e.g. (9)I sentence you to six months in prison…In example 9, above, the performance will be infelicitous(inappropriate) if the speaker is not a specific person in aspecial context.
  18. 18. Austin, felicity conditions: (A) i. There must be a conventional procedure having a conventional effect. ii. The circumstances and persons must be appropriate as specified in the procedure (Note that these procedures must be such that verbal action suffices to achieve some effect; compare: *I hereby fry this egg) (B) The procedure must be executed completely and correctly.
  19. 19.  C) Usually, i. the persons must have the requisite thoughts, feelings and intentions, as specified in the procedure, and ii. if consequent conduct is specified, then the relevant parties must do so.
  20. 20. Felicity conditions General e.g. they understand the languageA promise… Content e.g. a promise of a future act of the speaker Preparatory e.g. 1)the event will not happen by itself 2) the effect will have a beneficial effect. Sincerity e.g. must be genuine Essential e.g. when uttering a promise, one changes a non-obligation to an obligation
  21. 21. The performative Hypothesis Underlying every utterance (U) there is a clause containing a performative verb (VP). The basic format of the underlying clause is shown in (10).(10) I (hereby) Vp you (that) U See 11 and 12 a and b
  22. 22. The performative Hypothesis Explicit performatives  What would the performatives verbs…? Implicit performatives  Sometimes a stronger version of the utterance.
  23. 23. SEARLE´S CLASSIFICATION OF SPEECH ACTS A better choice to classify SA´s? Declarations: which effect immediate changes in the institutional state of affairs and which tend to rely on elaborate extra-linguistic insititutions (excommunicating, declaring war, christening, firing from employment) Expressives: which express a psychological state (thanking, apologizing, welcoming, congratulating)
  24. 24. Searles classification ofspeech acts: representatives: which commit the speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition (paradigm cases: asserting, concluding, etc.) directives: which are attempts by the speaker to get the addressee to do something ( requesting, questioning) commissives: which commit the speaker to some future course of action (Promising, threatening, offering)
  25. 25. Direct speech acts As shown in (20) there is a relationship between the three structural forms declarative, interrogative, imperative) and the three general communicative functions (statement, question, command/request) You eat bread (declarative) Do you eat bread? (interrogative) Eat bread. (Imperative)You wear a seat belt. (declarative) you wear a seat belt?(interrogative)Wear a seat belt! (imperative)
  26. 26. Indirect Speech Acts Whenever there is an indirect relationship between a structure and function.(It´s Winter and the window is open…) It´s cold in here… (indirect) I hereby request that you close the window. (Indir.)
  27. 27. Direct or Indirect? Move out of the way! You make a better door than a window. Pindy!! You´re standing in front of the Tele.. Questions or requests? Could you pass the salt? Would you open this?
  28. 28. Speech events It is an activity in which participants interact via language in some conventional way to arrive at so me outcome. See page 35… In this case “do you have a minute” will portray the “we mean more than what we say.”
  29. 29. Politeness andInteraction
  30. 30.  politenessshould be understood as strategic conflict-avoidance can be found, for example, in the view that the basic social role of politeness is in its ability to function as a way of controlling potential aggression between interactional parties (Brown & Levinson 1987:1)
  31. 31.  Politenessis connected with avoiding disruption and maintaining the social equilibrium and friendly relations (Leech 1983:17, 82)
  32. 32.  politenessis involved in social indexing, that is, politeness is socially appropriate behavior and what is socially appropriate depends on the speaker’s social position in relation to the hearer.
  33. 33. Politeness and interaction BASIC CONCEPTS  Much of what we say and communicate is determined by our social relationships. A linguistic interaction is necessarily a social interactionExternal factors relating to socialdistance/closeness are established prior to aninteraction:  relative status of the participants as determined by factors like age and power-
  34. 34.  Speakers who see themselves as lower status tend to mark social distance between themselves. Higher status speakers use address forms that include a tittle and a last name, but not the first name (Mrs. Jones, Mr. Adams, Dr. Miller)
  35. 35.  Internal factors (amount of imposition, degree of friendliness) are negotiated during an interaction can result in the initial social distance changing and being marked as less or more during the course of the interaction (e.g., moving to first name basis) - these factors are more relevant to p participants whose social relationships are actually in the process of being worked out within the interaction
  36. 36.  Both types of factors (external/internal) have an influence on what we say and how we are interpreted interpretation includes also evaluations such as rude, considerate or thoughtful which represent an additional aspect of communication perceived in terms of politeness
  37. 37.  General idea of politeness:Fixed concept of social behavior/etiquettewithin a culture, involves certain generalprinciples as beingtactful, generous, modest, sympathetictowards others.
  38. 38. Narrower concept of politeness within aninteraction: face = the public self-image of a person (emotional and social sense of self one has and expects everyone else to recognize)
  39. 39.  politeness = the means employed to show awareness of another persons face, -showing awareness for a socially distant persons face , i.e, respect, deference -showing awareness for a socially close persons face, i.e, friendliness, solidarity
  40. 40. Example (student to teacher)a. Excuse me, Mr. Buckingham, but can Italk to you for a minute?b. Hey, Bucky, got a minute  Different kinds of politeness are associated and marked linguistically with the assumption of relative social distance/closeness
  41. 41. Variables in Linguistic EtiquetteSocial power  Social hierarchies  Age  Gender  Language impairmentSocial distance  Intimates and strangers
  42. 42. POLITENESS MAXIMS: Leech, 1983 Tact: minimize cost/maximize benefit to the other personCould I interrupt you for half a second – what was the websiteaddress?  Generosity: maximize cost/minimize benefit to yourselfCould I copy the web address?  Approbation: minimize dispraise/maximize praise of the other personMary you’re always so efficient – do you have copy of that webaddress?  Modesty: maximize dispraise/minimize praise of yourselfOh I’m so stupid – I didn’t make a not of that web address. Didyou?
  43. 43.  Agreement: minimize disagreement/maximize agreement between self and otherYes, of course you’re right, but your decision mightmake her very unhappy  Sympathy: minimize antipathy/maximize sympathy between self and otherI was very sorry to hear about your father’s death Additional maxim proposed by Cruse (2000):  Consideration: minimize discomfort or displeasure/ maximize comfort or pleasure of otherVisitor to patient in hospital: You’re lucky to be inhere, it’s raining outside (Billy Connolly)
  44. 44. Face Withineveryday social interaction people generally behave as if their expectations concerning their face wants (i.e. public self-image) will be respected. The notion of face is derived from Goffman (1967) and the English folk term ("losing face")
  45. 45.  "the positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others [from others]assume he has taken during a particular contact...an image of self delineated in terms of approved social attributes“ (Goffman 1955/67)
  46. 46.  [Face] is something that is emotionally invested, and that can be lost, maintained, or enhanced, and must be constantly attended to in interaction. In general, people cooperate (and assume each others cooperation) in maintaining face in interaction, such cooperation being based on the mutual vulnerability of face. (Brown and Levinson 1978:66
  47. 47.  Face is a sense of worth that comes from knowing ones status and reflects concern with the congruency between ones performance or appearance and ones real worth. (Huang 1987:71)
  48. 48. face threatening act: speaker says something that represents a threat to another individuals expectations regarding self-image
  49. 49. face saving act: speaker says something to lessen a possible threat Situation: Young neighbor is playing loud music late at night. Older couple cannot sleep. A: Im going to tell him to stop that awful noise right now! B: Perhaps you could just ask him if hes going to stop soon because its getting a bit late and people need to get to sleep.
  50. 50.  negativeface: need to be independent, to have freedom of action, not be imposed on by others positive face: need to be accepted/liked, to be treated as a member of the same group, to know that wants are shared by others.
  51. 51. Brown and Levinson (1978/87) in Negative face as the individual’s desire for freedom of action and freedom from imposition. positive face as the individual’s desire that her/his wants be appreciated in social interaction, and
  52. 52. Negative politenessA face saving act oriented to a persons negative face tends to show deference, emphasizes the importance of the others time or concerns and may include an apology for the imposition
  53. 53. Positive politenessA face saving act concerned with the persons positive face will tend to show solidarity, emphasize that both speakers want the same thing and have a common goal
  54. 54.  You are about to land in the U.S. You want to fill your immigration form but realize that you do not have a pen. Fortunately, there is a person sitting next to you. First choice: say something or not rummage in your bag, search through your pockets, go back to the bag other person offers a pen
  55. 55.  Many people prefer to have their needs recognized by others without having to express them (less imposition) -- clearly a case of communicating more than what is said.
  56. 56. Off record statements not directly addressed to another person (i.e. hints) Uh, I forgot my pen. Where is the pen. Hmm, I wonder where I put my pen
  57. 57. On recordDirectly address the other person to expressyour needsUsing imperative forms is known as bald onrecord (speaker assumes he/she has powerover the other) Give me a pan Lend me your pen
  58. 58. Mitigating devices (e.g.please, would you) can be used to soften the demandCaution: Not all imperatives are commands Havesome more cake Gimme that wet umbrella
  59. 59.  Inemergency situations, commands have no social/politeness component Donttouch that! Get out of here! Run!
  60. 60.  “Negativepoliteness is concerned with other people’s need not to be intruded or imposed upon “Positive politeness” is concerned with their need for inclusion and social approval.
  61. 61. A positive politeness strategy leads the requester to appeal to a common goal, even friendship How about letting me use you pen? Hey, buddy, Id appreciate it if youd let me use your pen
  62. 62. A greater risk of refusal, therefore oftenpreceded by getting-to-know-you-talk toestablish common ground … Hi, Hows it going? Okay if I sit here? We must be interested in the same crazy stuff. You take a lot of notes too, huh? Say, do me a big favor and let me use one of your pens…
  63. 63. A negative politeness strategy is morecommonly performed in face savingacts Could you lend me a pen? Im sorry to bother you, but can I ask you for a pen? I know youre busy, might I ask you if - em - if you happen to have an extra pen
  64. 64. features:- modal verbs- apologies for the imposition- Hesitations- questions (even asking for permission to ask a question)+ more indirect approach softens refusal
  65. 65.  Face saving acts on record are less direct, longer, less clear, with a more complex structure, showing greater effort, concern for face (politeness)

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