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Macropragmatics Speech act theory.

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1 Macropragmatics Speech act theory

2 Austin and Searle Austin, J. L. How to Do Things with Words. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1962.

3 6.3.1 Speech act theory Speech act theory was proposed by John
. L. Austin and has been developed by J. R. Searle. They believe that language is not only used to inform or to describe things, it is often used to “do things”, to perform acts. Ex. (1) You’re fired. (2) “There is a policeman on the corner”

4 “There is a policeman at the corner.”
This could be a warning, an assurance, a dare, a hint, or a reminder to go and take your car out of the handicapped space you are parked in.

5 “I promise I’ll be there tomorrow.”
This could be a threat or a promise, depending on whether his presence tomorrow is a disadvantage or an advantage to the listener. Contrast the sentence above with: “If you don’t behave, I promise you there’s going to be trouble.” This sentence says it’s a “promise,” but it’s a “threat.” (Searle Speech Acts 58)

6 Actions performed via utterances are generally called speech acts, the uttering of the relevant words is the action itself; without the utterance the action is not done. These are called performative sentences and the verbs used are called performative verbs (Vp):

7 Illocutionary acts Austin suggests three kinds of acts
a. locutionary act b. illocutionary act c. perlocutinary act

8 The speech act theory a. Locutionary act: the act of saying, the literal meaning of the utterance b. illocutionary act: the extra meaning of the utterance produced on the basis of its literal meaning c. perlocutionary act: the effect of the utterance on the hearer, depending on specific circumstances.

9 (1) It’s stuffy in here. The locutionary act is the saying of it with its literal meaning “There isn’t enough fresh air in here”. The illocutionary act can be a request of the hearer to open the window. The perlocutinary act can be the hearer’s opening the window or his refusal to do so. In fact, we might utter (1) to make a statement, a request, an explanation, or for some other communicative purposes. This is also generally known as the illocutionary force of the utterance.

10 a. Husband: That’s the phone. b. Wife: I’m in the bathroom. b
a. Husband: That’s the phone. b. Wife: I’m in the bathroom. b. Husband: Okay. Its illocutionary acts are: (i) a refusal to comply with the request (ii) a request to her husband to answer the phone instead.

11 Searle’s classification
John R. Searle’s classification : Directives Commissives Representatives Declaratives Expressives

12 Directives Directive is a speech act that is to cause the hearer to take a particular action 1) I need/ want that car. 2) Give me your pen. 3) Could you give me your pen, please? 4) May I have some soda? Is there any milk left? 5) This has to be done over. What about the renovation?

13 Commissives Commissive is a speech act that commits a speaker to some future action (promises, refuses) e.g. Maybe I can do that tomorrow. Don’t worry, I’ll be there.

14 Representatives Representative is a speech act that commits a speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition e.g. I went to the Affandi painting exhibition. There are about twenty painting on display. Some are very classic and extraordinarily awesome.

15 Declaratives Declarative is a speech act that changes the reality in accord with the proposition of the declaration. e.g. Class dismissed (students get up and leave) . I now pronounce you husband and wife.

16 Expressives Expressive is a speech act that expresses on the speaker's attitudes and emotions towards the proposition. e.g. I am very disappointed. What a great day!!! Oh my, that’s terrible.

17 Speech act functions 1) Exchange factual information The plain departs at 7:10. 2) Exchange intellectual information These arguments are correct. 3) Exchange emotional attitudes I’m worried about my term papers.

18 4) Exchange moral attitudes
I appreciate your help. 5) Persuasion Hand in your assignments. 6) Socializing Hi, Larry, how are you?

19 Indirect speech acts “Could you move over a bit?”
“Yes” (without moving is inappropriate) Moving (without “Yes” is appropriate) NOTE: “Could you move over a bit” is a precondition to the actual speech act, “Move over.” (Mey 111)

20 Do you know what time it is?
Do you have the correct time? Can you tell me how to get to the men’s room? Do you see the salt anywhere? It’s cold in here. Isn’t this soup rather bland? Why can’t you shut up? NOTE: These are preconditions (Mey , 135)

21 (2) a. It’s cold outside. b. I hereby tell you about the weather. c
(2) a. It’s cold outside. b. I hereby tell you about the weather. c. I hereby request of you that you close the door. Whenever there is a direct relationship between a structure and a function, we have a direct speech act. For example, a declarative used to make a statement is a direct speech act, but a declarative used to make a request is an indirect speech act. As illustrated in (2), the utterance in (2a) is a declarative. When it is used to make a statement, as paraphrased in (2b), it is functioning as a direct speech act. When it is used to make a command/request, as paraphrased in (2c), it is functioning as an indirect speech act.

22 I strongly suggest you shut your mouth.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to shut up. I wonder if you really should do all that talking. I wouldn’t say more, if I were you. Remember the proverb, “Speech is silver….?” How about if you just shut up? (Mey 136)

“Would you like to tell us, Mr. Khan, why you’ve applied to Middleton College? This is known as “fishing for compliments.” (Mey 213)

24 Ironic Speech Acts I promise not to keep this promise.
Do not read this sign. You did a great job, and I’m not being polite. (Mey 129, 177) George Lakoff wrote a book entitled, Don’t Think of an Elephant.

25 Silence as a speech acts
In Mexico in the old days, the Federales would pull a person over and ask to see their driver’s license. Before handing over the driver’s license the driver would attach a $20 bill onto the back of the license. Nothing was said by either party. Was this, therefore, a bribe, or not? (Mey 211)

26 MOTHER (Calling out the window to child in yard): Joshua, what are you doing?

27 Assignments I. Define the following terms briefly: Speech act theory
II. Someone stands between you and the TV set you were watching, so you decide to say one of the following. Identify which would be direct and which would be indirect speech acts. (1) Move! (2) You’re in the way. (3) Could you sit down? (4) I can’t see anything. (5) Please get out of the way.

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