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Nurul Fahmi / 1652044002

Speech acts and Events

Speech Acts

In linguistic communication, people do not merely exchange information. They

actually do something through talking or writing in various circumstances. Actions performed
via speaking are called speech acts.

"In English, specific labels are commonly given, such as apology, complaint,
compliment, invitation, promise, or request." These descriptive terms for different kinds of
speech acts are directly related to the speaker's intention in producing an utterance, since
he/she normally expects that the hearer will recognize his/her communicative intention.
Concerning this, both speaker and hearer are usually helped in this process by the
context/circumstances (speech events), which surround the utterance. Changing the context,
the same utterance can be interpreted as two or more kinds of speech acts.

Types of speech acts

1. Locutionary speech act the action of making the sentence

2. Illocutionary speech act the intentions

3. Perlocutionary speech act the effects

Of these types, the most important is the illocutionary act because in communication
people respond to an illocutionary act of an utterance, because it is the meaning intended by
the speaker. The basic act of utterance or producing a meaningful linguistic expression. The
Illocutionary act, related to the fact that people produce well-formed utterances with a
purpose or a function in mind. It is performed through the communicative force of an
utterance. To make a statement, to ask, to make an offer, a promise, etc. are related to the
illocutionary force of the utterance. For example, if a teacher says, I have run out of chalk
in the process of lecturing, the act of saying is locutionary, the act of demanding for chalk is
illocutionary, and the effect the utterance brings about one of the students will go and get
some chalk is perlocutionary.

Yule (1996) states that besides a purpose, people usually create an utterance with a
function intending to have an effect. On the other hand, if the same utterance can have
different illocutionary forces (promise versus warning), how can speakers assume that the
hearer will recognize the intended illocutionary force? In order to answer this, one must
consider the Ilocutionary Force Indicating Device (IFID), related to the slot for a verb(per-
formative verb) that explicitly names the illocutionary act being formed, and the Felicity
Conditions, related to certain circumstances for the performance of a speech act to be
recognized as intended. Among ordinary people contexts, there are pre-conditions on speech
acts, such as:
General conditions on the participants: that they can understand the language being
used and they are not play-acting;

Content conditions, for promise and warning, the content of the utterance must be
about a future event;

Preparatory conditions for a promise are different from those for a warning. When I
promise to do something, there are two preparatory conditions:

1. The event will not happen by itself, and

2. It will have a beneficial effect. When I utter a warning, it is not clear that the hearer
knows the event will occur, the speaker does think the event will occur and it wont have a
beneficial effect;

The sincerity condition for a promise: the speaker intends to carry out the future
action and for a warning the speaker believes the future event will not have a beneficial

The essential condition: by uttering a promise I intend to create an obligation to carry

out the action as promised (obligation). With a warning, under the essential condition, the
utterance changes my state from non-informing of a bad future event to informing.

The performative hypothesis - The characteristic of each sentence to have a clause, as

well as a performative verb, which make clear the illocutionary force. " The advantage of this
type of analysis is that it makes clear just what elements are involved in the production and
interpretation of utterances''. (Yule, 1996:52) However, there are some sentences in which the
explicit performative use can be seen in a strange way, being the implicit performative use
more suitable. In terms of the speech act classification, Yule presents:

Declarations, those speech acts which you give a message and this is considered as a
truth; for this reason, it changes the world through words;

Representatives, those speech acts which bring assertions, conclusions, and

descriptions based on what the speaker believes;

Expressive, those which convey speaker feelings (pain, likes, pleasure, dislikes, joy or

Directives, those speech acts used to command, order, request, suggest in a positive or
negative way; and

Commissives, speech acts which convey commitment in future actions. They express
what the speaker intends (Promises, threats, refusals, pledges).

In English, illocutionary acts are also given specific labels, such as request, warning,
promise, and invitation.