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Concept of Speech Act


Concept of Speech Act
Dylgjeri (2017: 21-22) people  perform  various  actions  through  the  use  of  words  and  when  utterances  are made, a particular act is performed; this is called Speech act. The Speech Acts theory is also described as “How to Do Things with Words Theory” since it has its roots in the work of Austin (1962) and Searle (1969). They are able to provide a shift from constative notion  to  performative  notion  in  the  empirical  verifiability  of  signs;  that  is,  the truthfulness of signs to what an expression does when it is uttered. 
Speech  acts  according  to  Austin  (1962)  fall  into  three  classes,  which  are: locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts. A locutionary act is an act of saying something;  that  is,  the  act  of  producing  an  utterance.  Illocutionary  acts  are  the  core  of any  theory  of  speech  acts.  The  perculotionary  act  is  the  effect  or  influence  on  the feelings,  thoughts  or  actions  of  the  listener/hearer  unlike  locutionary  acts. Perlocutionary  acts  could  be  inspiring,  persuading,  consoling,  promising,  encouraging etc. It brings about an effect upon the beliefs, attitudes or behaviours of the addressee.
Searle (1969) improves on Austin’s (1962) Speech Act theory by distinguishing between  two  types  of  speech  acts:  Direct  and  Indirect  Speech  Acts.  Searle  (1969) categorizes the illocutionary act into five classes:
  1. Assertives:  These  are  statements  that  describe  a  state  of  affairs  in  the  world which could be true or false. They commit a speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition. 
  2. Directives: These are statements that compel or make another person’s action fit the  propositional  element.  It  is  usually  used  to  give  order  thereby  causing  the hearer to take a particular action, request, command or advice. 
  3. Commisives:  These  statements  commit  the  speaker  to  certain  future  action.  It could be in the form of a promise. 
  4. Expressives:  The  purpose  of  expressive  statements  is  to  express  sincerity  of  the speech act like excuses and sympathy. 
  5. Declaratives: These statements are used to say something and make it so, such as pronouncing someone guilty and declaring a war.
The  application  of  the  Speech  Act  theory  in  the  analysis  will  allow  in depth research into the linguistic features that have been explored by the speaker to inculcate meaning into the formal linguistic properties of the selected speech.

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