Function of Speech Acts

Illocutionary act , Locutionary act

Functions of Speech Acts in a Dialogue


The dialogue analyzed in this paper is about two foreign students who have lunch in a restaurant. They sit next to each other at a counter and wait to be served. They do not know each other, but because the wait is too long they get bored. So, the older student, Maria, who is 19-year-old and comes from Venezuela, turns over the person sitting next to her and starts a conversation with a younger 18-year-old student, Ali, who comes from Saudi Arabia to study English. I will analyze this dialogue whit paying most of my attention on the functions taken by the Speech Acts. It is a usual conversation between two individuals while introducing themselves to each other and trying to establish contact or friendship. The sentences are marked with ‘u’ and a number for each every one of them, this being put in brackets.

Function of Speech Acts

The Speech Act Theory was developed from the belief that language is used to perform actions. The speaker who produces these kind of utterances, expects that the hearer will perform some kind of action, which he recognizes from the utterance (the Hearer recognizes the Speaker’s intentions). The Speaker and Hearer are helped by the context, by the so called speech events.

Declarations and Declaratives are ritualistic utterances, which carry no information about the world outside the language, they refer only to themselves. (SAYING=DOING)

1. Explicit performatives: I order you to clean the window.

2. Implicit performatives: Clean your window!

For an utterance to perform a certain act, there need to be some conditions fulfilled. These are the Felicity Conditions.

Felicity conditions for the act of ordering:

1. The sender believes the action should be done.

2. The receiver has the ability to do the action.

3. The receiver has the obligation to do the action.

4. The sender has the right to tell the receiver to do the...
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