Speech acts are statements that constitute actions. They correspond to the language in use, to the language in practice, in the concrete communicative situation. When we speak, we not only speak words but also perform certain actions: we describe, invite, advise, greet, congratulate, discuss, etc., that is, we do things with words. It matters not only what we say, but how we do it and with what intention. Examples of Speech acts
The origin of speech act theory dates back to the studies of Reid, Reinach, and Austin. To the elements contributed by these authors, Searle adds the primary role of the intentions, both of the speaker and the listener, in the constitution of a complete meaning of the speech act. A speech act, says our author, is the minimum and basic unit of linguistic communication and distinguishes between the act of issuing words, morphemes or sentences – act of issuance – and the act of attributing to those words a reference and preaching – propositional act. When comparing these elements with those proposed by Austin, the coincidence between the two authors regarding the “consecutive” component of the speech act can be appreciated. Searle, in addition, would admit an illocutive and perlocutive dimension in linguistic uses. Examples of Speech acts
From this perspective, the speaker when participating in a communicative process triggers three acts of communication:
|Act||AspectS of the action|
|Speech act||It corresponds to the content of the statement, that is, to the meaning of what was said. It is the information that the statement delivers. For example, when saying “lend me your pencil”, the speech act corresponds to the meanings of the words that make up the sentence. (The simple act of saying something)|
|Illocutionary act||It refers to the intention of the issuer and the action taken through the statement, for example ordering, asking and apologizing, advising, reprimanding, among others. It is the part of the action carried out by the speaker through his statement. In the example above, what the sender does is a request: ask for the pencil. (The objective, purpose, or intention of what was said.)|
|Perlocutionary act||It is the effect that the illocutionary act produces in the world, the consequence it has on the person who receives it. This perlocutionary act can be more or less active: for example, if a priest blesses a person, the perlocutionary act is to be blessed, which does not imply any action on the part of the recipient. On the other hand, if the illocutionary act is a request, the perlocutive act will be the fulfillment of that request. In the examples above, borrow the pencil. (The effects of what is said on the listener.)|
Direct speech acts
When the intention of the issuer is clearly understood. For example, if a man asks a boy:
"Buy me the newspaper"
This is a direct speech act because it is clearly stated that it is a command.
Indirect speech acts
When the intention of the issuer is not clearly expressed. If the same man says to the boy:
"I need to check the newspaper classifieds"
This is an indirect speech act, as you are not clearly stating the order or request, but the other must “take it for granted” and facilitate the diary. In this case, a hint was made, which within the context can be understood, but which strictly speaking is not a clear order, because the true intention is to make the other facilitate the diary. Examples of Speech acts
If a specific action is requested, the most direct way is to use the imperative, for example, “Turn off the light”, but this statement can be impolite or cause discomfort, both for the speaker and the receiver. Hence, we prefer to use indirect forms that could be manifested with statements such as:
It would be better with the light off. You're wasting energy ...
Speech acts are concrete, therefore, they are in the plane of everyday speech. They respond to the situations of the context, that is why they will be different depending on the degree of formality and the standard used. The norm, as we already know, corresponds to the degree of education of the people. Depending on the specific situations that people have to live in, they will be more or less formal. It’s clearly a different situation if someone talks to their boss or talks to friends. In the first case, his speech acts will be of a greater degree of formality and, if he is a person of a cultured level, he will try to speak according to that level. In the second case, if he is a cultured person, he will continue in that registry, but his degree of formality will be different. There will be more closeness and the treatment will be equal to equal.
Classification of Speech Acts Examples of Speech acts
Speech acts can also be classified according to the type of action carried out through them. This action is manifested fundamentally in the verbal form of the sentences that we produce. In this way, we can say that there are five types of speech acts: Examples of Speech acts
The speaker affirms something about the world, that is, he elaborates a referential content that represents things or states of affairs in the world. For example: Examples of Speech acts
"Today it's cloudy". "The price of the dollar fell."
By means of these acts, the speaker commits himself to carry out an action in the future. For example:
"I promise I'll go to your house."
Acts that seek to direct the listener or engage him in an action, making him act according to the wishes of the speaker. For example:
"Bring the vial of vitamin D that is on the counter."
4. Declarative Examples of Speech acts
Acts that create a new state of affairs in the world through the word, for example, when priests bless or marry two people and when judges sentence. It requires a certain level of authority on the part of the issuer. For example, if a teacher says when expelling a student: Examples of Speech acts
"You are suspended from class."
Through these acts, the speaker expresses his feelings and attitudes towards situations in the external world. For example:
"I congratulate you on your triumph."
Based on this classification, any statement can be categorized as a particular speech act that is carrying out an action in the communicative interaction. Examples of Speech acts