Speech Act Theory

Topics: Pragmatics, Illocutionary act, Speech act Pages: 13 (4540 words) Published: November 2, 2013
Till the middle of the XX century the only function of speech acts was to describe the reality. The process of realization of language units in speech was viewed through the comparison of language and speech as a potential system of signs. Pragmatics itself studies how transmission of meaning depends not only on the linguistic knowledge of the speaker and listener, but also on the context of an utterance, knowledge about the status of those involved, the inferred intent of the speaker and so on. That is why when dealing with pragmatic syntax, in the focus of linguistic study are interrelations between language units and those who use them. Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, as it explains how the users are able to overcome ambiguity paying attention to sociological, psychological peculiarities of those involved, time and place of an utterance. Many scholars tried to investigate the problem of speech act and some of them such as J. L. Austin, H. P. Grice, J. R. Searle, J. Lyons, Ch. Morris, P. F. Strawson have succeeded. Topicality of this issue is that people communicate with each other every day and it is necessary to study deeper the speech acts with the purpose of establishing proper communication. The aim of this term work is to characterize the performatives of the speech act, to show an influence of Pragmatics on it, to classify its felicity conditions, to systematize the types of the speech acts. To achieve this aim it is necessary to perform the following tasks: to give explanation of the Speech act theory;

to examine different points of view on this problem;
to illustrate the examples of different types of speech acts; to characterize different types of felicity conditions.
Object of this paper is functioning of the Speech act theory. Subject is to examination of the Speech act theory and its types.

Chapter i. speach act theory and pragmatics
For sure, both Speech act theory and Pragmatics intend to study linguistic phenomena left unexplained by the grammatical or logical analysis of language, which constituted the orthodox view in the analytic philosophy of language during the twentieth century. This lack was already noticed at the beginning of the 20th Century in Europe by theorists such as Adolf Reinach, Alan Gardiner or Charles Morris. But it is at Oxford in the 1950s that a group of philosophers, called “ordinary language philosophers” because they concentrated on ordinary language use rather than logical analysis, including Austin, Peter F. Strawson, Ryle, Grice, Urmson, precisely criticized logical analysis and extensional and truth-conditional conceptions of language according to which a sentence expresses a “proposition” analysable in terms of its truth-conditions. But Strawson, for instance, is well-known for having been the first to undermine Russell’s logical conception of meaning and denotation and for having shown that “referring” is a pragmatic action, rather than a purely linguistic one, in emphasizing the role of pragmatic presuppositions in that process: according to him, in order to refer, certain presuppositions need to be in order (which does not mean that they need to be asserted or meant) in certain uses of language. It was one of the first step towards a pragmatic account of language use. But pragmatic reflections have really emerged on the philosophical scene with what is called “Speech acts theory”, which essentially originates in the pioneer and revolutionary work of Austin (1911-1960). He considers that the truth-conditional account of language use (as it has been proposed by Logical Positivist) is faulty because of a “descriptive illusion” which leads to suppose that language mainly aims at saying true things, at transmitting a certain “content” or piece of information about something (the world or the speaker's thought about it). Now Austin wants to emphasize pragmatic phenomena arising in speech: more precisely the fact that discourse may accomplish...

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