The Speech-Act Theory

Speech-Act Theory

The speech act theory was developed by the philosopher John Austin who described it in the fullest sense in his How to do Things with Words, written in 1962. 

The term and its meaning were further expanded as well as explored by the ordinary language philosophers like John Searle and H. P. Grice.

The theory became an important part of understanding the speech patterns and thus was a difficult topic to work upon. The complex topic thus may sometimes require students to get assignment help for their work. 

Austin directed his theory against the traditional tendencies of the other philosophers:

1. To analyze the meaning of sentences they are isolated from a particular discourse as well as separated from the circumstances it was uttered in. 

2. To assume that a standard sentence, different from its variants, is a statement that describes a situation or emphasizes a fact and is to judge either as true or as false. John Searle had views different to what have been mentioned above. 

His adoption and elaboration of the speech act theory of Austin claimed that when we attend to the overall situational and linguistic context, including the institutional conditions that govern the usage of language,

we find out that in writing or in speaking, we simultaneously perform sometimes three or four distinguishable kinds of speech acts. These acts have been derived from the research paper writing by Austin:

1. He says that when we utter a sentence, this act is called a locution.

2. Then we refer to an object and predicate something about that very object. 

3. Then we perform an illocutionary act.

4. And then we also perform a perlocutionary act. 

The act of locution that is stressed by traditional philosophy and logic is the illocutionary act. The act is performed to stress that something is true, 

but it may also be one of the very many other possible speech acts like commanding, questioning, warning, promising, thanking, praising, and so on. 

A sentence that is written in the same structure and same grammatical form such as I will not go for the practice may in particular situational or verbal context turn out to have an illocutionary force either of a promise, or an assertion or of a threat. 

In illocutionary acts that are something other than assertion, the prime criterion is not its truth or falsity but whether or not the act has been performed successfully or to term Austin- felicitously.

Performing an act felicitously means that the act depends upon its meeting the appropriate conditions which obtain for that type of act, these conditions are social or tacit linguistic conventions or rules that are shared by interpreters of a language as well as its competent speakers. 

For example: the successful or felicitous performance of a particular illocutionary act like that of promising depends upon the speaker’s intention to do so, that is, fulfill the promise or the speaker must be capable of fulfilling the promise and must believe that the listener wants him to do so. 

The fulfillment of such an act depends on its meeting a special set of appropriateness conditions. If the condition attached with the listener is not fulfilled, then the same acts seem that of a threat. 

In his How to Do things with Words, John Austin established an initial distinction between two broad types of locations: performatives and constatives. 

The former refers to sentences that are speech acts that accomplish something such as promising, questioning, praising or so on while the latter refers to sentences that assert something about a state of affairs or a fact and then these are to be judged either to be true or to be false.

 As Austin continued with his analysis in the form of his Assignment Help USA, he showed that the initial division of utterances into two sharply exclusive classes 

does not actually hold in the case that many performatives also involve the reference to a state of affairs, while the constatives also perform an illocutionary act.

What Austin stressed upon was the term explicit performative, which is a sentence whose utterance itself brings about the state of affairs that it signifies, when executed under appropriate institutional as well as other conditions.

If a particular illocutionary act has an impact on the actions or the state of mind of the hearer which goes beyond merely understanding what has been uttered, it is also called a perlocutionary act. 

Thus, any statement like I am going to take this away from you, with an illocutionary force of warning, not only may be understood as per it’s intended meaning but also may or may not have the additional perlocutionary effect of frightening the listener. Similarly, 

when one performs the illocutionary act of promising something, he may either please the hearer or anger him, on the other hand, by asserting something, that may either have the effect of inspiring or enlightening or of intimidating the listener.

There are some perlocutionary effects that are intended by the speaker while there are others which come without any intention of the same and sometimes even against the intention. 

There have been a number of deconstructive theorists who have proposed that the use of language in the fictional world is in fact a proper example of performative,

in the fact that such a work does not refer to any pre-existing state of affairs, rather brings about or brings into being, the characters, action and the world that it describes. 

On the other hand, some deconstructive theorists convert the two distinctions given by Austin into an oscillation or an undecided deadlock due to the fact that performative linguistic acts cannot avoid recourse to assertion or statements.

Since 1970, the speech act theory has influenced the practice of literary criticism in varied ways. When it is applied to a direct discourse in a piece of work, 

it reflects the underlying meanings and intentions as well as the effects of speech acts which the competent readers as well as the critics have always taken into account.

Therefore, the points mentioned above on the theory of speech and act, are sufficient enough to offer assignment help to students.

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