A PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF SPEECH ACTS IN THE GENRE HOROSCOPE

Topics: Illocutionary act, Speech act, Perlocutionary act Pages: 5 (1354 words) Published: December 11, 2013
A PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF SPEECH ACTS IN THE GENRE HOROSCOPE1 Gabriela BUENO SANTOS

1. Introduction
In attempting to express themselves, people do not only produce utterances containing grammatical structures and words, they perform actions via those utterances. (Yule, 1996). That means that when we use language we are not only speaking, telling, saying or writing something. We are also apologizing, complaining, complimenting, inviting, promising or requesting. Speech acts are the actions performed via utterances (e.g. apology, complaint, compliment, invitation, promise, request) and speech events are the circumstances in which these utterances take place. As mentioned before, when we write something we are not only writing, we have a purpose behind that writing and expect that writing to have a certain effect on the readers. Therefore, we can assume that genres “do” something. What do horoscopes do, for example? This question will be answered in the results and discussion section. And why analyze horoscopes? The choice for this genre was made considering three reasons: presence in history, presence in the western media, and lack of research in the linguistic field. During my TFG research and analysis I found out that horoscopes have been present in the history of mankind for about 4 thousand years and have influenced the behavior and actions of powerful men and women, regulating their behavior. I also discovered that seventy millions of Americans start the day reading their horoscopes in the newspaper, which was the first type of media to publish horoscope columns, in 1930. And finally, I have decided to analyze this genre due to the fact that there are no analyses of the genre horoscope in the linguistic field published until now.

2. Methodology
A corpus of 15 horoscopes for the sign of Aries (my sign) was taken from 5 magazines, 5 newspapers and 5 websites that contain a horoscope or astrology section. These predictions are daily, weekly or monthly, depending on the kind of media and its frequency of publication. This represents half of the original corpus of my TFG. The chosen magazines, newspapers and websites were:

MAGAZINES: Fitness, Cosmo Girl, ELLE, Teen Vogue and Marie Claire. NEWSPAPERS: LA Times, Daily News, NY Post, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune. WEBSITES: www.astrology-online.com , www.tarot.com, www.astro.com, www.astrocenter.com, www.horoscope.com In this analysis I tried to identify the illocutionary acts or forces (functions) present in horoscopes and also classified the speech acts. To do so, I based my work on Yule’s chapter 6 of Pragmatics. 3. Results and discussion

3.1 Speech acts
According to an analysis previously made by myself for my TFG, three steps are found in horoscopes: MOVE1 – Giving advice, MOVE 2 – Analyzing present state of affairs and MOVE 3 – Making predictions. For this present analysis, I analyzed the horoscopes again and confirmed that horoscopes advise, analyze and predict. Here are some examples of the speech acts found:

ADVICE:
“Accept that you may face challenges, so that you can better deal with them as they come.” [Teen Vogue] “Gain clarity by taking five minutes to meditate on yourself and what it is you want to change in the coming weeks.” [Teen Vogue] “No one expects you to be perfect, so why expect it of yourself?” [NY Post] You should be making plans to spend some time with the ones you love. [astrology-online.com]

ANALYSIS:
You've a sense that your destiny has already been determined, and it has -- by you. [LA Times] Love: Real love is unconditional, like the love for a child or a family member. [Daily News] But this is not selfishness on your part, for you are quite capable of being generous and giving to others. You are more openly affectionate than usual and feel real love for the people around you. It is just that this aspect of your life - love, affection and pleasure - is more important to you now than work. [astro.com] You're in...

References: Yule, G. (1996) Pragmatics. London: Longman
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