Concept of Speech Act

Concept of Speech Act

Language  is  inseparable  part  in  or  everyday  life.  It  is  main  device  to convey  message,  communicate  ideas  opinions  and  thought.  In  spesific  situation there  are  moment  we  need  to  be  understood  language  quite  correctly, 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. There are three different kinds of action associated with any utterances. They are locutionary acts, illocutionary acts, and perlocutionary acts.


1.      Locutionary Acts

They are simple acts of saying something and meaning the thing speaker says or the acts of saying something in the full normal sense of saying. Or the actual words uttered.

2.      Illocutionary acts

They are what are done in the acts of saying something. Illocutionary acts have to do with intents of speakers, such as or stating, questioning, promising, or commanding.

3.      Perlocutionary acts

They are the effects that are produced by the speaker by saying what the speaker says. Sometimes when we say something, we produce certain consequential effects upon the feelings, through, or action of the hearer, or of the speaker or of other person.


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.

To  make  clear  about  the  meaning  from  the  utterance,  Searle  (1976) proposed  that  speech  act  could  be  grouped  into  general  categories  based  on  the relation  of  word  and  world.  There  are  five  basic  kinds  of  actions  that  one  can perform  on  speaking  or  utterance,  by  means  of  the  following  types: representatives, directives, commissives, expressives, and declaratives.

1.      Representatives

Representatives  in  Yule  (1996  :53)  tells  about  the  truthfully  of  the utterance.  In  other  words,  it  presents  external  reality  by  making  their utterance or words fit with the world as they belive it to be. Searle used the term  “assertive”  in  stating  this  category.  In  my  point  of  view, representatives  are  statement  which  commits  the  speaker  to  something being  the  case.  This  type  performs  action  such  as:  stating,  describing, affirming,  boasting,  concluding,  claiming,  and  etc.  For  example:  “no one can make a better cake than me”,  this  utterance  is  a  representatives  that utterance was stating some general truth.

2.      Directives 

This  second  category  means  that  speakers  direct  the  hearer  to perform some future act which will make the world fit wit the speaker’s words.  In  my  assumption,  the  utterancce  in  this category  attempt  to  make  the  addressee  perform  an  action.  Directives perform commanding, ordering, requesting, warning, suggesting, inviting, and etc. For example, because the garage was mess. Ed said to Fey “clean it up!” it’s mean that Ed commanding Fey to clean the mess.

3.      Commissives

In  commissive,  speakers  commit  themselves  to  a  future  act  which make  the  words  fit  their  words.  They  express  what  speaker  intends (Yule, 1996 :54). Commissives is the utterance is produces to give action  in  the  future.  They  are  promising,  vowing,  planning,  threatening, offering,  and  etc.  They  can  be  performed  by  the  speaker  alone,  or  by speaker  as  a  member  of  a  group.  “I’ll take her to the doctor”  it  is  the example of planning. The situation is Steve’s cat named Coco is sick, and he will take Coco to the vet to check her.  

4.      Expressives

Searle make a one category for speech act that focus on primarily on representing the speaker’s feeling, it  was  expressive.  Expressive  use  the speaker  makes  words  fit  the  world(of  feeling).  They  express  a psychological state (Yule, 1996 :53-54). The expressions such as thanking, apologizing,    welcoming,  condoling,  pleasuring,  like,  dislike,  joying,  etc. In my oipinion, expressive is kind of speech act that expressing of feeling. “I’m really sorry!” is the example of apologizing in expressives types.  It reflect that the speaker require some apologizing to hearer.

5.       Declaratives

This  kind  of  speech  act  is  quite  special,  because  the  speaker  utters words  or  statement  that  in  themselve  change  the  world  via  words  (Yule, 1996  :53).  Declarations  which  effect  immediate  changes  in  the institutional  state  of  affairs  and  which  tend  to  rely  on  elaborate  extra linguistic institutions with George Yule’s ideas  that  this  category  was  special  because  it  can  change  something  in reality. The paradigm cases are: excommunicating, declaration war, firing, christening,  etc.  For  example  utterance  :  “I pronounce  you  husband  and wife”. This utterance by a priest to declarate a man and a women maarige and become a husband and wife (Yule, 1996 :53).


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