CAS LX 502 7a. Speech acts Ch. 8. How to do things with words Language as a social function. — I bet you $1 you can’t name the Super Tuesday states. —You’re.
Published byModified over 6 years ago
Presentation on theme: "CAS LX 502 7a. Speech acts Ch. 8. How to do things with words Language as a social function. — I bet you $1 you can’t name the Super Tuesday states. —You’re."— Presentation transcript:
How to do things with words Language as a social function. — I bet you $1 you can’t name the Super Tuesday states. —You’re on. I ate a sandwich. I promise to get up early and vote. I need the day off. I (now) pronounce you man and wife. I hereby sentence you to 90-days probation. May I have the salt? NY, CA, MA, OH, VT, MN, CT, MD, RI, GA
Conventional sentence types Declarative. (Assertion) I seem to have forgotten my umbrella. Interrogative. (Question) Where did I leave it? Imperative. (Order/Request) Go find my umbrella! [ Optative. (Wish) ] If only I had my umbrella!
Austin (1955/1962/1975) A traditional view of meaning in language at the time (which we will explore in more depth) revolved around the assumptions that: The basic sentence type is declarative. The main use of language is to describe states of affairs The meaning of utterances can be described in terms of truth and falsity (or the situations in which an utterance would be true/false). However, there are many sentence types and usages that cannot really be said to be “true” or “false”. This seems to cover only declaratives, and not even all of them.
Performative utterances Certain utterances actually perform an act. I promise that I will do my homework. I hereby declare this meeting adjourned. For performative utterances, whether they are true or not is not at issue; rather, we might ask whether they work (felicitous) or not (infelicitous).
Felicity Generally speaking: A1. There must be an accepted conventional procedure having a certain conventional effect, the procedure to include the uttering of certain words by certain persons in certain circumstances… A2. The particular persons and circumstances must be appropriate for the invocation of the particular procedure invoked… B1. The procedure must be executed by all the participants correctly… B2. …and completely… Misfire, abuse, …
Three elements of a speech act Locutionary act: speaking/writing a grammatical utterance. Illocutionary act: action intended by the speaker. Perlocutionary act: effect intended by the speaker. Arrest that man! Urging, advising, … Persuading, …
Categorization of speech acts Searle (1976): Representatives. Commit to the truth of expressed proposition Asserting, concluding, … Directives. Attempts to get addressee to do something Demanding, questioning, requesting, … Commissives. Commit to a future course of action Promising, threatening, offering, … Expressives. Express a psychological state Thanking, apologizing, congratulating, … Declarations. Effect immediate changes in the institutional state of affairs. Christening, firing, marrying, …
Defining speech acts à la Searle Schema: Preparatory condition(s) Propositional condition(s) Sincerity conditions(s) Essential condition(s) Promising (by S to H of A via P using E): Prep1: 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. Prep2: It is not obvious to both S and H that S will do A in the normal course of events. Prop: In expressing that P, S predicates a future act A of S. Sinc: S intends to do A Ess: the utterance E counts as an undertaking to do A.
Defining speech acts à la Searle Schema: Preparatory condition(s) Propositional condition(s) Sincerity conditions(s) Essential condition(s) Questioning (by S to H via P using E): Prep1: S does not know the missing information. Prep2: It is not obvious to S and H that H will provide the information without being asked. (Prop: No condition, any proposition.) Sinc: S wants the missing information. Ess: The act counts as an attempt to elicit this information from H.
Implicit v. explicit performatives I hereby promise to pay you 35 euros. I’ll give you 35 euros. (a promise, not a prediction or a statement). It’s a fuzzy line.
Overriding convention: indirect speech acts Can you pass the spinach? Why don’t you go find your teddy bear? Direct act: question, indirect act: request. I must ask you to leave. Direct act: statement, indirect act: order/request It’s freezing in here. Direct act: statement, indirect act: request So how do we know which one is meant?
Literal and non-literal Can you pass the spinach? (Please) pass the spinach. I wish you wouldn’t tap your pencil. (Please) stop tapping your pencil. Are you going to eat your peas? (Please) eat your peas. Requesting (by S to H of A) Prep: H is able to perform A. Sinc: S wants H to do A. Prop: S predicates a future act A of H. Ess: Counts as an attempt by S to get H to do A.
How we understand indirect speech acts Searle: reasoning from Felicity conditions Context Principles of cooperative conversation Can you pass the salt? (Quantity) I wish you wouldn’t tap your pencil. (Relation) Convention: Are you capable of passing me the salt? Perception of the direct act: Yes indeed.
Why be indirect? Close the window. Can you close the window? I don’t suppose you could close the window, could you? I wonder if you’d mind closing the window. It’s rather chilly in here. Diminishing threats to face (worthiness, autonomy). I’d love to go, but I have to wash my hair, I have a headache, and it’s my mother’s birthday. Maybe another time.