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Lecture 4: Speech Acts II

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1 Lecture 4: Speech Acts II

2 Review of Speech Acts I What is a Performative?
What is a Metalinguistic Performative? What is a Ritual Performative? What is a Collaborative Performative? What is a Group Performative? What are Felicity Conditions?

3 Prime Minster Rudd's apology to aboriginal people of Australia
K. Rudd's apology speech p24rA

There seems to be a straightforward relationship in this example between the words uttered ('The bar will be closed in five minutes'), what is thereby said, and the act of informing the patrons that the bar will close in five minutes. Less direct is the connection between the utterance and the act of urging the patrons to order one last drink. Clearly there is no linguistic connection here, for the words make no mention of drinks or of ordering. This indirect connection is inferential. The patrons must infer that the bartender intends to be urging them to leave and, indeed, it seems that the reason his utterance counts as an act of that sort is that he is speaking with this intention.

5 SIMILARLY ... There is an indirect connection when an utterance of 'It's getting cold in here' is made not merely as a statement about the temperature but as (1) a request to close the window or as (2) a proposal to go some place warmer. Whether it is intended (and is taken) as a request or as a proposal depends on contextual information that the speaker relies on the audience to rely on. This is true even when the connection between word and deed is more direct than in the above example, for the form of the sentence uttered may fail to determine just which sort of illocutionary act is being performed.

6 Consider, by analogy, the fact that in shaking hands we can, depending on the circumstances, do any one of several different things: (1) introduce ourselves, (2) greet each other, (3) seal a deal, or (4) bid farewell. Similarly, a given sentence can be used in a variety of ways, so that, for example, 'I will call a lawyer' could be used as (1) a prediction, (2) a promise, or (3) a warning. How one intends it determines the sort of act it is.

7 Outline of today’s Lecture
Problems with Austin’s Performatives A new way to think about Speech Acts Indirect Speech Acts Searle’s Classification of Speech Acts

8 Collapse of Austin’s Performative Hypothesis
Austin had shown clearly that language was about more than the meaning of its words and phrases. But he made some fairly obvious mistakes: No formal way to distinguish performative verbs from other verbs Performative verb does not guarantee the specified action will be performed There are ways of “doing things” with words without performatives.

9 1. Distinguishing performative verbs from other verbs
Austin had tried to show that performative verbs were different from other verbs. But it became apparent they shared the same characteristics: (examples from Thomas, pp. 44& 45) (a) They can be singular or plural (Individual or Group Performatives) (b) They can be written or spoken: “I hereby resign as Chief of Staff to the President of the United States. Respectfully yours, Donald T. Regan”

10 (c) They do not have to be used in the 1st person:
The court finds the accused not guilty. (d) They can be active or passive: Your employment is hereby terminated with immediate effect. (e) They do not have to be in the simple present tense: You are being discharged on the grounds of severe temperamental unsuitability for service in the Royal Navy.

11 2. Do performatives always perform actions?
(a) Ritual and Collaborative Performatives fail if the felicity conditions do not exist. Write an example of a failure for each of these kinds of performatives [Worksheet #1] (b) Even Metalinguistic Performatives can fail: I promise I’ll come over there and hit you if you don’t shut up. How does this performative fail? [Worksheet #2] Try to think of another example.

12 3. Performative verbs not necessary to DO things with language.
What are these actions? (From Thomas. p. 46) 1. “letting the cat out of the bag” 2. “going to hell” 3. “putting your foot in it” Was a performative verb necessary to do each action?

13 The most important reason for the collapse of Austin’s performative hypothesis was the realisation that Austin had (at least tacitly) equated ‘doing things with words’ with the existence of a corresponding performative verb. There are many acts would be impossible or strange to be performed using language. (like the above 3 examples)

14 Language is often used to insult, but it would be impossible to say: I (hereby) insult you! We ready use language to invite, but in English it is not usual to use the word I invite you to perform the act of inviting. And the same is true for many extremely common acts: Discourage Insult Offer Hint Boast Divulge Invite Do these actions need a performative verb?

15 Explicit and Implicit performatives
An explicit performative (of the I hereby ... kind) can now be seen to be a mechanism which allows the speaker to remove any possibility of misunderstanding the force behind an utterance.

16 Are there any differences…?
I invite you to come to my party on Friday. This is to invite you to my party on Friday. You are invited to my party on Friday. Please come to my party on Friday. Which one is an explicit performative?

17 We can see that sentences (1), (2), (3) and (4) all perform the same action - that of inviting you to the party on Friday. But whereas utterance (1) uses an explicit performative to perform the act of reminding, (2) - (4) do so using different sort of non-performative utterances.

18 Let’s explore the difference in the way in which a performative utterance and its non-performative counterpart are used. In some situation specific form of language is used, while others imply a stylistic difference (e.g. formality, reinforcement). 1. I apologise 2. I’m sorry 1. I assure you, I did apply for an MA programme 2. I did apply for an MA programme.

19 Utterances as Actions Austin abandons his idea of Performatives as a distinct class of verbs. He comes to recognize that all utterances can be analysed for their meaning and their force. By abandoning the Performative distinction, Austin (and others) broaden the scope of Speech Acts.

20 A new classification:(from Thomas, p. 49)
Locution: the actual words uttered Illocution: the force or intention behind the words Perlocution: the effect of the illocution on the hearer

21 Look at our old example…
It’s cold in here. Locution_____________ Illocutionary force____________ Perlocutionary effect___________

22 Analyse the underlined utterance in context: [Worksheet #3]
B: so er so [anyway so you have (.) how many girlfriends do you have (.) here b: ((clear throat)) [okay b: er (.) girlfriends you means just friends only B: you know that you're intimate with b: ((laugh)) er B: four five b: no one only B: only one b: yea I’m Hong Kong people B: oh [Hong Kong Hong Kong people only have one b: [only one yea

23 Could be analysed as below:
Locutionary Act Statement of speaker’s citizenship Illocutionary Act Speaker explains the reason for having only one girlfriend Perlocutionary Act Hearer accepts the explanation

24 How about this Conversation: [Worksheet #4]
B: maybe the er people from Hong Kong and China they don’t eat as much as Ameri[cans b: [yea B: right b: yea the consumption of American I think is much more than the Asia people B:we eat differently b:yea B:we we eat differently

25 Possible Analysis is: Locutionary Act: The consumption of Americans is not the same as that of Hong Kong people. Illocutionary Act: The speaker asks for understanding and not to be judged negatively. Perlocutionary Act: The hearer is not convinced. Is that how you interpreted this conversation?

26 Usually competent speakers of a language interpret illocutionary force accurately. But not always: (from Thomas, p. 50) A man and a woman enter an art gallery: Official: Would the gentleman like to leave his bag here? Woman: Oh, no thank you. It’s not heavy. Official: Only…we have had…we had a theft here yesterday, you see.

27 Indirect Speech Acts We have seen that people often don’t mean exactly what they say. The form of their utterances can be very misleading, which creates problems for learners of a language. English sentences have 3 basic forms: Declarative, Imperative, Interrogative Utterances have 3 basic functions: Assertion, Order/Request, Question

28 If the sentence form corresponds to the utterance function, it is a Direct Speech Act.
If the sentence form is different from the utterance function, it is an Indirect Speech Act. Example: Is that your car? Interrogative - Question Direct Speech Act Interrogative - Request Indirect Speech Act

29 Another example: I'll die if I don't get one of your chocolates. Declarative - Request Indirect Speech Act Discuss & Analyse the sentences/utterances on your worksheet [Question 5].

30 Would they be: A. (Father in the bathroom to son in the living room)
“Can you answer the phone?” Interrogative Order/Request B. (Parent to child) “Is that your coat on the floor?” Interrogative Order/Request

31 C. (Teacher to noisy class)
“Could we make a start now?” Interrogative Order/Request D. (Mother in the bedroom to son in the living room) “There’s somebody at the front door.” Declarative Order/Request Why do you think indirect speech acts are often related to orders/requests?

32 Classification of Speech Acts
People have attempted to classify the functional value of utterances with a variety of speech act typologies which are invariably criticised for failing to account for all the possible functions of language in the real world. The most well-known example of such a typology is John Searle’s which has five basic kinds of action that can be performed by one of the following utterance types:

33 Searle’s Classification of Speech Acts
i) representatives, which commit the speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition (paradigm cases: asserting, concluding) ii) directives, which are attempts by the speaker to get the addressee to do something (paradigm cases: requesting, questioning) iii) commissives, which commit the speaker to some future course of action (paradigm cases: promising, threatening, offering)

34 iv) expressives, which express a psychological state (paradigm cases: thanking, apologising, welcoming, congratulating) v) declarations, 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, firing from employment) (Searle, 1976; cited in Levinson, 1983: 240)

35 Classify these speech acts according to Searle’s classification
(a) You're hired! (b) John Searle classified speech acts. (c) Well done! (d) Can you get the door? (e) Wait until your father gets home! [Question 6]

36 Possible answers: (a) You're hired! (Declaration)
(b) John Searle classified speech acts. (Representative) (c) Well done! (Expressive) (d) Can you get the door? (Directive) (e) Wait until your father gets home! (Commissive) Note that the classification depends on function rather than form.

37 Concluding remarks All classifications of speech acts are incomplete and imprecise. Spoken language evolves pragmatically, not according to a set of rules. Linguists attempt to classify in order to understand language, but do not (usually) expect their classification systems to be a perfect fit with reality.

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