Types of Speech Act

 Types of Speech Act

Searle (2014:1) point out that the most important are illocutionary point, direction of fit, and expressed psychological state. These three form the  basis of  a  taxonomy of  the  fundamental classes of  illocutionary acts. The five basic kinds of illocutionary acts are: representatives (or assertives), directives, commissives,  expressives,  and  declarations. Each  of  these notions is defined. An earlier attempt at constructing a taxonomy by Austin is  defective for several reasons, especially in  its  lack of  clear criteria for distinguishing one  kind  of  illocutionary force  from  another.

Yarahmadi and Olfati (2011: 2523) In everyday communication reading between the lines is an important skill, in order to understand what people want to say, five taxonomies in speech acts. The selected speech acts in the plays will be analyzed within the structure of five major speech acts as follows:  

1.      Assertives (representatives),

Assertives (representatives), which commit the speaker to the truth of something (i.e. asserting, claiming, reporting). Assertive speech acts are also known as representative speech acts because they reflect the speaker’s as well as the narrative belief. Beijer (2000:7) A Assertives (representatives)  have a  WORDS-TO-WORLD direction of fit, i.e. their truth values are assigned on the basis of whether or not the words describe things as they are in the world spoken of. Assertives (representatives) is characterised by the fact that the speaker commits himself to the truth of the expressed proposition, as in an assertion or a conclusion

According to Searle the purpose of Assertive class is to commit the speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition. That is to say the speaker wants to make the listener believe the truth of what he or she said.

It is the Assertive speech act that most closely resembles Austin’s constative utterance. The speaker asserts a proposition that represent a condition or a state of affairs that in principle could be true or false. Assertive speech acts are statements of fact, getting the viewer to form or attend a belief. Here, the speaker’s words reveal his beliefs and he/she is uttering about external world. English verbs that function as explicit assertive include: report, predict, inform, accuse, testify, confess, state, swear, criticize, complain, etc.

The various verbs differ from one another by force or strength of the assertion. On comes across some examples of assertive Speech acts in the play under consideration. Let us examine the following speech act in the light of Searle’s speech act theory. The  following  Selected  part  is  the  best  instance  of  Assertive  Speech  acts  in  the  play  under consideration. It is the opening dialogue of the play, presents a perfect example of self-obsession[4]. All of the characters in the chain at some time in the play become self-obsessed; some of them never acquire the necessary objectivity to see themselves and others clearly

2.      Directives

Directive which are attempts of the speaker to get the hearer to do something (i.e. ordering, commending, requesting, begging). A Directive speech act occurs when the speaker expects the listener to do something as a response. For example, the speaker may ask a question, make a request, or issue an invitation. Many Directive sentences are posed as questions so they are easy to identify by the presence of a question mark. However, the language here is informal and often ungrammatical; so many directives are posed as a question mark. Furthermore, many directive speech acts are not stated as a question but as a request for assistance. Finally, some sentences that end in question marks are rhetorical in nature and do not represent a directive speech act. This class includes commands, suggestions and orders

3.      Commissive 

Commissive which  commit  the  speaker  to  do  some  future  action  (i.e.  promising,  offering, threatening). The illocutionary point of commissive speech act is to commit speaker to perform some future action. This kind of speech act even called intended act. In conversation, common commissive speech acts are promise and threats. In message boards, these types of commissives are relatively rare; however, we found many statements where the purpose was to confirm the readers that the writer would perform some action  in  the  future.  The  class  involves  promising,  vowing,  refusing,  threatening,  pledging, guaranteeing etc

4.      Expressive

Expressive which express a psychological state (i.e. thanking, apologizing, complimenting). The illocutionary goal of expressive is to express the psychological state about some affairs. By expressive, the speaker should express his psychological state about some affairs. Typical cases are when the speaker curses, praises, confesses or congratulates, the listener. Let’s turn to the play to see some instances that show Expressive Speech Acts

5.      Declarative

Declarative which bring out the correspondence between the propositional content and reality (I.e., appointing a chairman, nominating a candidate, marrying a person, christening). Searle defines Declarative speech acts as statements that bring about a change in status or condition to an object by virtue of the statement itself. For example, a statement declaring war or a statement that someone is fired. As soon as addresser utters the words, the very utterance brings about a change in the hearer’s world. The prelocutionary effect is immediately felt on the hearer. The class includes betting, declaring, resigning, passing a sentence, answering, appointing, nominating, applying, etc. These speech acts are uncommon. Therefore, the frequency of the use of these speech acts is very less.

The above mentioned part is the categories of illocutionary Act presented by John Searle, it is about the underlying meaning in everything we say. The underlying meaning along with the skill of reading between the lines is vital to make communication more efficient and it makes our everyday life function more smoothly.


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