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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/8360

  • Speech Act Theory. A Critical Overview
  • May 2011
  • This essay examines J.L. Austin's theory regarding speech acts, or how we do things with words. It starts by reviewing the birth and foundation of speech act theory as it appeared in the 1955 William James Lectures at Harvard before going into what Austin's theory is and how it can be applied to the real world.
    The theory is explained and analysed both in regards to its faults and advantages. Proposals for the improvement of the theory are then developed, using the ideas of other scholars and theorists along with the ideas of the author.
    The taxonomy in this essay is vast and various concepts and conditions are introduced and applied to the theory in order for it to work. Those conditions range from being conditions of appropriateness through to general principles of communication.
    In this essay utterances are examined by their propositional content, the intention of the utterance, and its outcome. By studying how utterances are formed and issued, along with looking into utterance circumstances and sincerity, one can garner a clear glimpse into what constitutes a performative speech act and what does not.
    By applying the ideas of multiple thinkers in unison it becomes clear that a) any one single theory does not satisfyingly explain all the intricacies of the theory and b) most utterances which are not in the past tense can be considered to be either performative or as having some performative force.

  • May 10, 2011
  • http://hdl.handle.net/1946/8360

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