How to do things with words (1)
; 标签; Austin 分类; Pragmatics
How to Do Things with Words (1)
b. Are you serving?
d. Six pints of stout and a packet of peanuts, please!
e. Give me the dry roasted ones.
f. How much? Are you serious?
Such sentences are not descriptions and cannot be said to be true or false. Austin's second observation was that even in sentences with the grammatical form of declaratives, not all are used to make statements. Austin identified a subset of declaratives that are not use to make true or false statements, such as in the examples below:
a. I promise to take a taxi home.
b. I bet you five pounds that he get's breathalysed.
c. I declare this meeting open.
d. I warn you that legal action will ensue.
e. I name this ship The Flying Dutchman.
Austin claimed of these sentences that they were in themselves a kind of action: thus by uttering: I promise to take a taxi home. a speaker makes a promise rather
than just describing one. This kind of utterance he called performative utterances:
in these examples they perform the action named by the first verb in the sentence, and we can insert the adverb hereby to stress this function, e.g. I hereby request
that you leave my property. We can contrast performative and non-performative
verbs by these two features. A speaker would not for example expect the uttering of (a) below to constitute the action of cooking a cake, or (d) the action of starting a car. These sentences describe actions independent of the linguistic act. Accordingly the use of hereby with these sentences.
a. I cook this cake.
b. ?I hereby cook this cake.
d. I start this car. b. ?I hereby start this car.
Evaluating performative utterances
Austin argued that it is not useful to ask whether performative utterances like those above are true or not, rather we should ask whether they work or not: do they constitute a successful warning, bet, ship-naming etc.? In Austin's terminology a performative that works is called felicitous and one that does not is infelicitous. For them to work, such performatives have to satisfy the social conventions for a very obvious example, I cannot rename a ship by walking up to it in dock and saying I name this ship the Flying Dutchman. Less explicitly,
there are social conventions governing the giving of orders to co-workers, greeting strangers, etc. Austin's name for the enabling conditions for a performative is felicity conditions. Examining these social conventions that support performatives, it is clear that there is a gradient between performatives that are highly institutionalized, or even ceremonial, requiring sophisticated and very overt support, like the example of a judge pronouncing sentence, through to less formal acts like warning, thanking, etc. To describe the role of felicity conditions, Austin (1975: 25-38) wrote a very general schema:
How to do things with acts (2)
; 标签; speech act theory 分类; Pragmatics
How to Do Things with Words (2)
; There must exist an accepted conventional procedure having a certain conventional effect, the procedure to include the uttering of certain words by certain persons in certain circumstances...
; The particular persons and circumstances must be appropriate for the invocation of the particular procedure invoked ...
; The procedure must be executed by all the participants correctly...
; ... and completely...
Austin went on to add sincerity clauses: firstly that participants must have the requisite thoughts, feelings and intentions, as specified by the procedure, and
secondly, that if subsequent conduct is called for, the participants must so conduct themselves. If the speech act is unsuccessful by failing the (1) or (2) conditions above, then he described it as a misfire. Thus my casually renaming any ship
visiting Dublin docks is a misfire because (2) above is not adhered to. If the act is insincerely performed, then he described it as an abuse of a speech act, as for
example saying I bet ... with no intention to pay, or I promise ... when I already
intend to break the promise. Linguists, as opposed to philosophers, have tended not to be so interested in this second type of infelicity, since the primary speech act has, in these cases, been successfully communicated.
Explicit and implicit performatives
Looking at examples of performative utterances earlier, we can say that they are characterized by special features:
a. They tend to begin with a first person verb in a form we could describe as simple present: I bet, I warn, etc.
b. This verb belongs to a special class describing verbal activities for example: promise, warn, sentence, name, bet, pronounce.
c. Generally their performative nature can be emphasized by inserting the adverb hereby, as described earlier, thus I hereby sentence you to....
Utterances with these characteristics we can call explicit performatives. The
importance of speech act theory lies in the way that Austin and others managed to extend their analysis from these explicit performatives to other utterances. The first step was to point out that in some cases the same speech act seems to be performed but with a relaxation of some of the special characteristics mentioned above. We regularly meet utterances like those below, where this is so:
a. You are (hereby) charged with treason.
b. Passengers are requested to avoid jumping out of the aircraft.
c. Five pounds says he doesn't make the semi-final.
How to do things with words (3)
; 标签; - 分类; Pragmatics
How to Do Things with Words (3)
; Come up and see me sometime.
We can easily provide the sentences above with corresponding explicit performatives, as below:
1. I (hereby) charge you with treason.
2. We request that passengers avoid jumping out of the aircraft.
3. I bet you five pounds that he doesn't make the semi-final.
4. I invite you to come up and see me sometime.
It seems reasonable to say that the sentences (a-d) could be uttered to perform the same speech acts as those in (1-4). In fact it seems that none of the special characteristics of performative utterances is indispensable to their performance. How then do we recognize these other performatives, which we can call implicit
performatives? Answers to this have varied somewhat in the development of the theory but Austin's original contention was that it was an utterance's ability to be expanded to an explicit performative that identified it as a performative utterance. Austin discussed at length the various linguistic means by which more implicit performatives could be marked, including the mood of the verb, auxiliary verbs, intonation, etc. We shall not follow the detail of his discussion here; see Austin (1975: 53-93). Of course we soon end up with a situation where the majority of performatives are implicit, needing expansion to make explicit their force. One positive advantage of this translation strategy is that it focuses attention on the task of classifying the performative verbs of a language. For now, the basic claim is clear: explicit performatives are seen as merely a specialized subset of performatives whose nature as speech acts is more unambiguous than most.
Statements as performatives
Austin's original position was that performatives, which are speech acts subject to
felicity conditions, are to be contrasted with declarative sentences, which are
potentially true or false descriptions of situations. The latter were termed constatives. However, as his analysis developed, he collapsed the distinction and viewed the making of statements as just another type of speech act, which he called simply stating. Again, we needn't follow his line of argument closely here: see
Austin (1975: 133-47) and the discussion in Schiffrin (1994: 50-4). In simple terms, Austin argued that there is no theoretically sound way to distinguish between performatives and constatives. For example, the notion of felicity applies to statements too: statements which are odd because of presupposition failure, like the sentence The king of France is bald discussed earlier, are infelicitous because the
speaker has violated the conventions for referring to individuals (i.e. that the listener can identify them). This infelicity suspends our judgment of the truth or falsity of the sentence: it is difficult to say that The king of France is bald is false
in the same way as The president of France is a woman, even though they are both
not true at the time of writing this. So we arrive at a view that all utterances constitute speech acts of one kind or another. For some the type of act is explicitly marked by their containing a verb labeling the act, warn, bet, name, suggest,
protest etc.; others are more implicitly signaled. Some speech acts are so universal and fundamental that their grammaticalization is the profound one of the distinction into sentence types we mentioned earlier. In their cross-linguistic survey of speech acts Sadock and Zwicky (1985: 160) observe:
It is in some respects a surprising fact that most languages are similar in presenting three basic sentence types with similar functions and often strikingly similar forms. These are the declarative, interrogative, and imperative. As a first approximation, these three types can be described as follows: The declarative is used for making announcements, stating conclusions, making claims, relating stories, and so on. The interrogative elicits a verbal response from the addressee. It is used principally to gain information. The imperative indicates the speaker's desire to influence future events. It is of service in making requests, giving orders, making suggestions, and the like.
Though the authors go on to discuss the many detailed differences between the uses of these main forms in individual languages, it seems that sentence type is a basic marker of primary performative types.
This conclusion that all utterances have a speech act force has led to a widespread view that there are two basic parts to meaning: the conventional meaning of the sentence (often described as a proposition) and the speaker's intended speech act. Thus we can view our earlier examples, repeated below, as divisible into propositional meaning (represented in small capitals below) and a sentence type marker, uniting to form a speech act as shown in:
How to do things with words (4)
; 标签; austin 分类; Pragmatics
How to Do Things with Words (4)
Siobhin is painting the anaglypta. SIOBHAN PAINT THE ANAGL=A +
declarative -= statement
Is Siobhin painting the anaglypta? SIOBHAN PAINT THE ANAGLYPTA +
interrogative = question
SIOBNAN PAINT THE ANAGLYPTA + imperative = order
If only Siobhin would paint the anaglypta
SIOBHAN PAINT THE ANAGLYPTA + optative = wish
Three facets of a speech act Austin proposed that communicating a speech act consists of three elements: the speaker says something, the speaker signals an associated speech act, and the speech act causes an effect on her listeners or the participants. The first element he called the locutionary act, by which he meant
the act of saying something that makes sense in a language, i.e. follows the rules of pronunciation and grammar. The second, the action intended by the speaker, he termed the illocutionary act. This is what Austin and his successors have mainly
been concerned with: the uses to which language can be put in society. In fact the term speech acts is often used with just this meaning of illocutionary acts. The third element, called the perlocutionary act, is concerned with what follows an
utterance: the effect or 'take-up' of an illocutionary act. Austin gave the example of sentences like Shoot her! In appropriate circumstances this can have the
illocutionary force of ordering, urging or advising the addressee to shoot her, but the perlocutionary force of persuading, forcing, frightening, etc. the addressee into shooting her. Perlocutionary effects are less conventionally tied to linguistic forms and so have been of less interest to linguists. We know for example that people can recognize orders without obeying them.
Categorizing Speech Acts
After Austin's original explorations of speech act theory there have been a number of works which attempt to systematize the approach. One importnt focus has been to categorize the types of speech act possible in languages. J. R. Searle for example, while allowing that there is a myriad of language particular speech acts, proposed that all acts fall into five main types:
1. REPRESFNTATIVES, which commit the speaker to the truth of the
expressed proposition (paradigm cases: asserting, concluding);
2. DIRECTRVES, which are attempts by the speaker to get the addressee to do something (paradigm cases: requesting, questioning);
3. COMMISSIVES, which commit the speaker to some future course of action (paradigm cases: promising, threatening, offering);
4. EXPRESSIVES, which express a psychological state (paradigm cases: thanking, apologizing, welcoming, congratulating);
5. DECLARATIONS, which effect immediate changes in the institutional state of affairs and which tend to rely on elaborate extra linguistic institutions (paradigm cases: excommunicating, declaring war, christening, marrying, firing from employment).
How to do things with words(5)
; 标签; Austin 分类; Pragmatics
How to Do Things with Words(5)
First, it should be noted that words are not "objects" or "things" that have properties of their own in the same way that actually existing things do. Words are relational entities. Which is to say that words are composed of parts that are not integrated by any form or structure intrinsic to the word itself. The symbols (marks/sounds) which taken together constitute a word, make the word real insofar as it exists outside the mind; but, as vibrations in the air or as marks on paper, words exist as relational entities and not as actual things.This is due to the fact that the medium which carries the word is not proportionate to the idea or concept which constitutes the form of the word. All that the air or paper and ink can
carry is the symbolic representation of the actual form which is understood within the mind, and not the form itself.
When a word is spoken or written it becomes a relational entity which lacks the power to do or to cause anything. While it is true that the vibrations in the air or the marks on a piece of paper can stimulate the senses, a word as such, can not cause knowledge. As Augustine noted:
We learn nothing by means of these signs we call words. On the contrary, as I said, we learn the force of the word, that is the meaning which lies in the sound of the word, when we come to know the object signified by the word. Then only do we perceive that the word was a sign conveying that meaning.
The person who hears or sees the word must already know what it means if she is to be able to understand it. That is why, if someone does not understand the meaning of a word, you must explain it using other words which she does understand, give examples, or point to some real thing so that she can come to know what it is that you are talking about. If human beings could directly cause knowledge in one another, then we would communicate through a direct spiritual contact such that one person would be able to directly infuse a specific form into the mind of another. Since that is not how we communicate however, it is clear that our words do not directly cause knowledge to appear in the mind of another. Instead, our words are tokens or signs which can only function as a formal cause in that if the other person already knows what the word means, she will be able to recognize it and form the appropriate concept in her own mind.
Communication between human beings, therefore, involves an active receptivity on the part of the hearer and not a mere passivity. The spoken or written word does not directly actualize some potency in the mind of the receiver. Rather, it prompts him or her to look at things in a new way so as to be able to form new concepts and thereby grow in understanding. Thus, words are not in themselves "things" which cause knowledge, but relational entities which carry the value of meaning. It is meaning which must be present for communication to occur. It follows that, although words are not actual things, and as such, are not the efficient cause of the
knowledge one gains through the use of language, words do have value. Their value lies precisely in the meaning which they carry.
How to do things with words (6)
; 标签; Austin 分类; Pragmatics
How to Do Things with Words(6)
Condition for questioning (Searle 1969: 66) [where S = speaker, H = hearer, P = the proposition expressed in the speech act)
1. Preparatory 1: S does not know the answer, i.e. for a yes/ no question, does not know whether P is true or false; for an elicitative or WH-question, does not know the messing information.
2. Preparatory 2: It is not obvious to both S and H that H will provide the information at that time without being asked.
3. Propositional: Any proposition or propositional function.
4. Sincerity: S wants this information.
5. Essential: The act counts as an attempt to elicit this information from H.
It is clear that this characterization relates to a prototypical question: it does not apply of course to rhetorical questions, nor the questions of a teacher in the classroom, a lawyer in court, etc. Note that the propositional condition simply says that there are no semantic restrictions on the content of a question as a speech act.
Searle provides felicity conditions above for each type of speech act: we shall be satisfied for now with looking at just these two. Elsewhere in the literature, there have been a number of taxonomies of speech act types suggested, for example Schiffer (1972), Fraser (1975), Hancher (1979 and Bach and Harnish (1979). One assumption that seems to underlie all such classification systems, and one we have assumed so far in talking about speech acts, is that there is some linguistic marking (no doubt supported by contextual information) of a correlation between form and function. In other words we recognize a sentence type and are able to match it to a speech act. There are two problems with this: the first is how to cope with cases where what seems to be the conventional association between a sentence form and an illocutionary force is overridden. We discuss this in the next section under the
heading of indirect speech acts. The second problem, which we discuss above
arises from difficulties in identifying sentence types.
Meaning and Speech Act Theory
University at Buffalo
"Words have meaning." This seems to be about as simple and clear an assertion of a factual state of affairs as any statement that one can make. On closer inspection however, it merely raises the question as to what "meaning" is.(1) If in saying; "Words have meaning." one intends to
convey the idea that meaning is a property of words in the same way that a dog has four legs and a tail, then I would suggest that the speaker has a rather inaccurate notion of what meaning is. In order to clarify the nature of meaning, this paper will examine how speech act theory explains some of the many different ways in which meaning is communicated through speech acts. However, before doing that, it is important to give some consideration to the ontological status of words and meaning so as to avoid some of the common misconceptions which seem to be associated with this type of analysis.
How to do things with words (7)
; 标签; Austin 分类; Pragmatics
How to Do Things with Words(7)
If one thinks of sentential meaning as a matter of sense and reference, and tacitly takes sense and reference as properties of words and phrases, then one is likely to neglect those elements of meaning which are not matters of words and phrases, and it is often those elements which in virtue of their meaning are such crucial determinants of illocutionary force.(6)