Presentation on theme: "Speech Acts & Language Functions Pragmatics Not only language structure is rule governed – language use is, too Rules of language use are social: ”Is saying."— Presentation transcript:
Speech Acts & Language Functions Pragmatics Not only language structure is rule governed – language use is, too Rules of language use are social: ”Is saying this ”possible?” / ”feasible?” / ”appropriate?” / ”done?” (Dell Hymes) Oxford 1930’s-1940’s: ”Ordinary Language Philosophers” John Austin
(The early) John Austin Language is not only about making true/false statements (cp. Logical Positivism) Language is also performing social actions, cp.: Constatives = true/false statements The car is in the garage Hitler died in 1945 Nitric acid dissolves zink Performatives = social actions ”saying is doing” I declare this bazaar open Go get my slippers I’ll pay you tomorrow
Performatives = social actions ”saying is doing” if the speech act is ”felicitous”: - I declare this bazaar open (but not anybody is authorized to do this) - Give me one million dollars! (but speaker may happen to know 2nd person doesn’t have one million) - I’ll pay you tomorrow (but speaker may not intend to do this)
Felicity conditions = conditions to be fulfilled for utterances to be ”felicitous” performatives Explicit performatives use performative verbs e.g. promise, recommend, warn, babtize, order However, apparent ”constatives” can also be performatives: ”It’s hot in here! ” – and what action is being performed here: ”(I don’t have the money with me) – can you manage until tomorrow?”
The later Austin drops the Constative/Performance distinction - and now talks only about SPEECH ACTs a. Locutionary acts: pronouncing meaningful sentences b. Illocutionary acts: expressing intention c. Perlocutionary acts: affecting the listener (a), (b) and (c) happen simultaneously – to be separated by analysis only
Can you reach the salt? – the title of Carol Henriksen’s anthology Locutionary meaning? Illocutionary force? Perlocutionary effect? The perlocutionary effect is not necessarily the intended one!
Austin’s How to Do Things with Words (1962) became the foundation of PRAGMATICS – carried on by two equally famous students of his: (from ”Ordinary Language Philosophers”): John Searle H. Paul Grice
John R. Searle ”Speech Act” in Searle = Austin’s ”Illocutionary Act” aims to group illocutionary acts into categories based on ”constitutive rules” (cp. Austin’s ”felicity conditions”) Constitutive rules – e.g. those making up game of chess (as opposed to) Regulative rules – e.g. ”one should not swear in public”
Thus ”promise” (”I’ll bring the book tomorrow”) based on 9 constitutive rules, e.g.: Preparatory conditions (rules 4 & 5) (4) H would prefer S’s doing A to his not doing A – S believes that H feels that way (5) It isn’t obvious to both S and H that S would do A anyway Sincerity condition (rule 6): S intends to do A Essential condition (rule 7): S intends that saying the sentence will place him under an obligation to do A
Categories of Speech Act (Searle) Representatives Directives Commissives Expressives Declaratives Cp. p. 45 of your Readings
Propositions and function indicating devices 1. Bill, open the window! 2. Would Bill open the window, please? 3. Bill opened the window 4. Did Bill open the window? 5. I forbid Bill to open the window! Proposition: Bill + open + the window What are the (pragmatic-) function indicating devices in each example? Ex. of utterances without propositional content: Yes/yea /mm, hurrah, ouch, OK
”Indirect Speech Acts” Problem: ”Representatives” are often ”indirect directives” e.g. x. You’re standing on my foot! Primary illocutionary force of (x): Directive Secondary illocutionary force of (x): Representative We can distinguish because of principles of cooperation (Searle refers to Grice!) contextual factors
Linguistic conventions in Indirect Speech Acts: ”Can you reach the salt?” ”Would you mind opening the window?” – certain syntactic constructions, e.g. interrogative clauses introduced by a ”modal verb” (can/could, will/would, etc.) = (potential) performative signals by convention to express degrees of ”POLITENESS”
H. Paul Grice elaborates further on how to get from the literal meaning of Can you reach the salt? to the illocutionary force of Pass the salt! the cooperative principle – cooperation about the production of meaning
Cooperativeness means observing 4 ”maxims”: 1. Quantity: Make your contribution neither less nor more informative than is required A. Where do you live? B. In the neighborhood. cp.B. In the little red house over there – in the basement – my wife won’t let me sleep in the bedroom …
(Grice’s maxims, continued) 2. Quality: Try to make your contribution one that is true = Do not say what you know to be false AND = Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence 3. Relation: Be relevant But then, how do we take up new aspects of the topic, let alone change the topic?
(Grice’s maxims, continued) 4. Manner: Be perspicuous i. Avoid obscurity of expression ii. Avoid ambiguity iii. Be brief (cp. 1st maxim, quantity) iv. Be orderly ”Implicature” = exploitation of the maxims Hearer expects cooperation – seeing some breaches of the maxims as meaning strategies intended to be interpreted as such
”Implicature” = exploitation of the maxims – and the Hearer’s ability to infer the intended meaning cp. (1) A.You look unhappy (2) B.I have to be in Copenhagen in an hour and a half, and I can’t make it by train (3) A.I’ve got a car (4) B.That would be absolutely wonderful – are you sure it’s 0k?
”Implicature” = exploitation of the maxims – and the Hearer’s ability to infer the intended meaning cp. (1) A.You look unhappy (2) B.I have to be in Copenhagen in an hour and a half, and I can’t make it by train (3) A.I’ve got a car – and I’m willing to lend it to you (4) B.That would be absolutely wonderful – are you sure it’s 0k?
(”Implicature” = exploitation of the maxims) Quantity Last night John was not drunk Quality Of course I’d love to take out the garbage (irony) His two gorilla’s were guarding the door (metaphor) McCarthy was a little touchy about Communists (understatement) Danish TV is always boring (generalization / overstatement / hyperbole)
(”Implicature” = exploitation of the maxims) Relation in most cases relevance is only apparently broken: ”… I’ve got a car” (example above: implicit relevance) when there is a change of topic but significant violation of the maxim in e.g. Look – what a beautiful day! by way of diverting attention after someone has committed a social blunder!
(”Implicature” = exploitation of the maxims) Manner Obscurity, ambiguity, prolixity to show that S finds the subject ticklish, or is being devious: ”My English text is chaste, and all licentious passages are left in the decent obscurity of a learned language” (Gibbon’s Autobiography) Polonius suggests we should ”by indirections find directions out” (Hamlet II.1)