Speech act

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Speech act is a technical term in linguistics and the philosophy of language. The contemporary use of the term goes back to John L. Austin's doctrine of locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts. Many scholars[who?] identify 'speech acts' with illocutionary acts, rather than locutionary or perlocutionary acts. As with the notion of illocutionary acts, there are different opinions on the nature of speech acts. The extension of speech acts is commonly taken to include such acts as promising, ordering, greeting, warning, inviting someone and congratulating.


Locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts

Speech acts can be analysed on three levels: A locutionary act, the performance of an utterance: the actual utterance and its ostensible meaning, comprising phonetic, phatic and rhetic acts corresponding to the verbal, syntactic and semantic aspects of any meaningful utterance; an illocutionary act: the semantic 'illocutionary force' of the utterance, thus its real, intended meaning (see below); and in certain cases a further perlocutionary act: its actual effect, such as persuading, convincing, scaring, enlightening, inspiring, or otherwise getting someone to do or realize something, whether intended or not (Austin 1962).

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