Hxe302 speech acts (1)

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Hxe302 speech acts (1)

  1. 1. SPEECH ACTS: Language asAction
  2. 2. Introduction• Pragmatics is a way of investigating how sense canbe made of certain texts even when, from asemantic viewpoint, the text seems to be eitherincomplete or to have a different meaning to what isreally intended. Consider a sign seen in a children’swear shop window: “Baby Sale – lots of bargains.”
  3. 3. Introduction• We know without asking that there are no babies arefor sale – that what is for sale are items used forbabies. Pragmatics allows us to investigate how this“meaning beyond the words” can be understoodwithout ambiguity.
  4. 4. Examples• A little boy comes in the front door.• Mother:Wipe your feet, please.• He removes his muddy shoes and socks andcarefully wipes his clean feet on the doormat.
  5. 5. • A father trying to get his 3-year-old daughter to stoplifting up her dress to display her new underwear tothe assembled guests.• Father:We don’t DO that.• Daughter: I KNOW, Daddy. You don’tWEARdresses.
  6. 6. • What do these children still need to learn aboutusing language?
  7. 7. What does pragmatics include:• Among the things you should know about are:• Speech act theory• The cooperative principle• Conversational maxims• Conversational implicature• Deixis• Politeness
  8. 8. • Utterances need not consist of complete sentences. Eachutterance is a unique physical event created at a particularpoint of time for a particular communicative purpose.Ex. Jane: Coffee?Steve: Sure!Jane:White?Steve: Black.• Utterance vs. Sentence– Sentence: abstract units of the language system.– Utterance: units of language in use.
  9. 9. Speech acts: introduction• The philosopher J. L. Austin (1911-1960) claims thatmany utterances (things people say) are equivalentto actions.• To communicate we must express propositions witha particular illocutionary force, and in so doing weperform particular kinds of action such as stating,promising, warning, etc, which have come to becalled speech acts.• It is important to distinguish between 3 things thatone doing in the course of producing an utterance.
  10. 10. • Sentences are often used to perform some acts.• For ex., “Can you close the door?” is literally a(yes/no) question, but it can be used as request.• The locution of a sentence is the literal meaning andthe illocution of a sentence is its intended meaning.• So the locution of a sentence “Can you close thedoor?” is a question, but its illocution is a request.
  11. 11. Speech act theory• John Austin (1911-1960)• How to DoThings with Words (1962)• speech acts: actions performed via utterances
  12. 12. • Austin (1962)– An utterance in dialogue is an ACTION– Speech acts• Performative sentences uttered by an authority (they changethe state of the world)– Any sentence in real speech contains• Locutionary act – utterance with particular meaning• Illocutionary act – asking, answering, promising, etc.• Perlocutionary act – effect upon feelings, thoughts, etc.
  13. 13. • Constatives vs. performatives• Constatives: utterances which roughly serves tostate a fact, report that something is the case, ordescribe what something is, eg:– I go to the park every Sunday.– I teach English.
  14. 14. Performatives• Performatives: utterances which are used toperform acts, do not describe or report anythingat all; the uttering of the sentence is the doing ofan action; they cannot be said to be true or false.• Performative verbs: name, bet, etc.
  15. 15. • I do.• I name this ship Queen Elizabeth.• I bet you sixpence it will rain tomorrow.• I give and bequeath my watch to my brother.• I promise to finish it in time.• I apologize.• I declare the meeting open.• I warn you that the bull will charge.
  16. 16. • Felicity conditions:A. (i)There must be a relevant conventionalprocedure.(ii) the relevant participants and circumstancesmust be appropriate.B.The procedure must be executed correctly andcompletely.C.Very often, the relevant people must have therequisite thoughts, feelings and intentions, andmust follow it up with actions as specified.
  17. 17. • Minister: addressing the groom)(Groom’s Name), do you take (Bride’s Name) foryour lawful wedded wife, to live together after God’sordinance, in the holy estate of matrimony? Will youlove, honor, comfort, and cherish her from this dayforward, forsaking all others, keeping only unto herfor as long as you both shall live?• Groom: I do.
  18. 18. • Features of performatives• First person singular• Speech act verbs / performative verbs:– The present tense– Indicative mood– Active voice
  19. 19. • I promise to be there.– I’ll be there.• I admit I was wrong.– I was foolish.• I warn you, this gun is loaded.– This gun is loaded.• I thank you.– I’m very grateful.• I apologize.– I’m sorry.• I order you to sit down.– You must sit down.
  20. 20. 3 facets of speech acts• Austin proposed that communicating a speech actconsists of 3 elements:• Locutionary act- the act of saying something that makes sense in alanguage, the literal meaning of the utterance- Illocutionary act- the extra meaning of the utterance produced on thebasis of its literal meaning• Perlocutionary act- the effect of the utterance on the hearer, dependingon specific circumstances
  21. 21. It’s stuffy in here.• Austin proposed that communicating a speech act consists of3 elements:• Locutionary act- the act of saying something that makes sense in a language,the literal meaning of the utterance- Illocutionary act- the extra meaning of the utterance produced on the basis ofits literal meaning• Perlocutionary act- the effect of the utterance on the hearer, depending onspecific circumstances
  22. 22. a.Husband: That’s the phone.b. Wife: I’m in the bathroom.c.Husband: Okay• Its illocutionary acts are:• i. a refusal to comply with the request• ii. a request to her husband to answer the phoneinstead
  23. 23. Speech act theory broadly explains theseutterances• Locutionary act : saying something (the locution) with acertain meaning in traditional sense. Two types oflocutionary actutterance acts : where something is said (or a soundis made) and which may not have any meaningexample : Oh! - is an utterance (communication is notintended - it is just a sound caused by surprise)propositional acts : where a particular reference ismadeExample: ”The black cat ” (something is referenced,but no communication may be intended)
  24. 24. • lllocutionary acts: are the real actions which areperformed by the utterance, where saying equalsdoing, as in betting, believe , dare, warning, etc.• the performance of an act in saying something (vs.the general act of saying something).• The illocutionary force is the speakers intent. A true speechact.e.g. informing, ordering, warning, undertaking.• Example:”I promise to pay you back”- is anillocutionary act (it intends to communicate)
  25. 25. – Perlocutionary acts: Speech acts that havean effect on the feelings, thoughts or actionsof either the speaker or the listener. Inother words, they seek to change minds!– such as persuading, convincing, scaring,enlightening, inspiring, or otherwise gettingsomeone to do or realize something•
  26. 26. Categorizing speech acts• Some linguists have attempted to classifyillocutionary acts into a number of categories ortypes.• J.R. Searle (1976) proposed that all acts fall into fivemain types:• 1. Representatives - which commit the speaker tothe truth of the expressed proposition (asserting,concluding)• 2. Directives - which are attempts by the speaker toget the addressee to do something (requesting,questioning)
  27. 27. • 3. Commissives - which commit the speaker to somefuture course of action (promising, offering)• 4. Expressives - which express a psychological state(thanking, apologising)• 5. Declarations - which effect immediate changes inthe institutional state of affairs and which to rely onelaborate extralinguistic institution (marrying, firingfrom employment)
  28. 28. • a. declarative:You wear a seatbelt. (statement)• b. interrogative: Do you wear a seatbelt? (question)• c. imperative: wear a seatbelt! (command/request)• There is an easily recognised relationship betweenthe three structural forms (declarative,interrogative, imperative) and the three generalcommunicative functions (statement, question,command/request)
  29. 29. a. It’s cold outside.b. I hereby tell you about the weatherc. I hereby request of you that you close the door.• Whenever there is a direct relationship between astructure and a function, we have a direct speechact.• For example, a declarative used to make astatement is direct speech act but a declarative usedto make a request is an indirect speech act.• The utterance in a is a declarative.When it used tomake a statement b, it is functioning as a directspeech act. When it is used to make acommand/request in c, it is functioning as a directspeech act.
  30. 30. THANK YOU.

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