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SPEECH ACTS. Adapted from by Don L. F. Nilsen and Language Files with added examples of conflict management strategies from Arabic TV broadcasts. Introduction.

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speech acts

SPEECH ACTS

Adapted from by Don L. F. Nilsen and Language Files with added examples of conflict management strategies from Arabic TV broadcasts

22

introduction
Introduction
  • Just as people can perform physical acts, such as hitting a baseball, they can also perform mental acts, such as imagining hitting a baseball.
  • People can also perform another kind of act simply by using language.
  • These are called speech acts.

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major types of speech acts
Major types of speech acts
  • For direct speech acts we have a declarative sentence type, which is dedicated to assertions.
  • Example: John has had bad breath.
  • An interrogative sentence, which is dedicated to questions.
  • Example: Who is he talking to?
  • An imperative sentence type, which is dedicated to orders and request.
  • (Please) leave me alone.

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performative verbs
Performative Verbs
  • Speech acts can be formed by using a set of verbs used to perform the acts they name.
  • Examples:
  • I order you to shut up.
  • I request that you scratch my nose.
  • I advise you to finish the assignment in time.
  • I ask you who doesn’t read the materials

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conditions on performatives
CONDITIONS ON PERFORMATIVES
  • Subject must be 1st person.
  • Verb must be active.
  • Verb must be non-durative.
  • Adverb must be “hereby.”
  • Sentence must be positive, not negative.
  • Sentence must be Imperative or Declarative.
  • Verb must perform the act.
  • Must meet felicity conditions (authority, etc.)
  • Must meet sincerity conditions (not a joke, etc.)
  • Can be larger than a sentence (e.g. The Declaration of Independence).

(Mey 107ff)

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context of speech acts
CONTEXT OF SPEECH ACTS
  • “There is a policeman at the corner.”
  • This could be a warning, an assurance, a dare, a hint, or a reminder to go and take your car out of the handicapped space you are parked in.

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slide7
“I promise I’ll be there tomorrow.”
  • This could be a threat or a promise, depending on whether his presence tomorrow is a disadvantage or an advantage to the listener. Contrast the sentence above with:
  • “If you don’t behave, I promise you there’s going to be trouble.” This sentence says it’s a “promise,” but it’s a “threat.”

(Searle Speech Acts 58)

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how changing contexts change the meaning of a promise
How changing contexts change the meaning of a “promise”
  • When he was campaigning, Clinton said he would not turn away any Haitian refugees.
  • When he became President, Clinton turned away Haitian refugees.
  • Clinton said that the conditions had changed.
  • Based on this, Daniel Schorr on National Public Radio said, “Campaigning is not the same as governing,” because the conditions are not the same.

(Mey 127)

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felicity conditions
FELICITY CONDITIONS
  • Authority
    • Person
    • Place
    • Time
    • Manner
  • Sincerity
    • Verbal Sincerity
    • Intonational Sincerity
    • Behavioral Sincerity

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indirect speech acts
INDIRECT SPEECH ACTS
  • “Could you move over a bit?”
  • “Yes” (without moving is inappropriate)
  • Moving (without “Yes” is appropriate)
  • NOTE: “Could you move over a bit” is a precondition to the actual speech act, “Move over.”

(Mey 111)

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slide11
Do you know what time it is?
  • Do you have the correct time?
  • Can you tell me how to get to the men’s room?
  • Do you see the salt anywhere?
  • It’s cold in here.
  • Isn’t this soup rather bland?
  • Why can’t you shut up?
  • NOTE: These are preconditions

(Mey 126-127, 135)

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indirect way to end an transaction
Indirect way to end an transaction
  • Ms. Wei, do you (still) have any question about your account? (at HSBC)
  • Doctor to the patient: Is there anything else that you want me to do for you?
  • Server places the check at the table in a restaurant.
  • Teacher to students: Do you have any questions? Students: Silence!?

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indirect to end an transaction
Indirect to end an transaction
  • During a long phone conversation when the person is starting to reiterate what has been said.
  • When the teacher starts to remind the students what they should bring or do for next week.
  • When the server stops pouring water or tea to your (half) empty cup.
  • When the lights are flickering in a lib or when soft music starts to play from the loud speaker.
  • When the doctor mentions that you should follow the regular 3/6 month check up.

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slide14
I strongly suggest you shut your mouth.
  • Sometimes it’s a good idea to shut up.
  • I wonder if you really should do all that talking.
  • I wouldn’t say more, if I were you.
  • Remember the proverb, “Speech is silver….?”
  • How about if you just shut up?

(Mey 136)

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slide15
DURING A JOB INTERVIEW:
  • “Would you like to tell us, Jennifer, why you’ve applied to Soochow English?
  • This is known as “fishing for compliments.”
  • But, Jennifer, you are the expert on this. (Jonathan to me on how to fix the program.) But, you are the chair of the dept.
  • (This is known as using compliment to delegate responsibility.)

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using compliments as rejections
Using compliments as rejections
  • You deserve someone better.
  • You are the best friend who I can’t afford to lose.
  • You are too good to be here.
  • It’s too good to be true.
  • You are a nice guy.
  • You are very kind-hearted and I don’t want to see you bear any more hardship any more.

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common usage for pragmatics
Common usage for pragmatics
  • Husband: Where is the pepper?
  • Wife:??
  • Son: Where is the pepper?
  • Mother:??
  • Husband: Nori ga Aru (There is dried seaweed)
  • Wife:

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common usage of pragmatics
Common usage of pragmatics
  • Parents to children
  • It’s 6:30 a.m. (Get up!)
  • Between friends
  • I am on my way. (I will be late.)
  • My bag is soooo heavy, (Please help.)
  • You look different. (You have put on some weight.)
  • Whatever you have, I will have the same. (Using agreement to disagree with your choices later.)

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more on common usage of pragmatics
More on common usage of pragmatics
  • Between mother and daughter
  • Are you wearing that? (question as criticism)
  • Between boyfriend and girlfriend
  • It’s all for a brighter future. (using empty promise to break up)
  • Between TV host and guest
  • Let’s have a commercial break. (ways to manage disquiet voices)

22

cultural differences to pragmatics
Cultural differences to pragmatics
  • Among Chinese: compliments as competition for self-denigration
  • Your English is very good.
  • Really!? My English is v-e-r-y poor. YOUR English is better.
  • Among Westerners: compliments as a way to establish rapport
  • Your Chinese is very good.
  • Thank you. I am glad that you have noticed. Your English good, too.

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silence as a speech act
SILENCE AS A SPEECH ACT
  • In Mexico in the old days, the Federales would pull a person over and ask to see their driver’s license.
  • Before handing over the driver’s license the driver would attach a $20 bill onto the back of the license.
  • Nothing was said by either party. Was this, therefore, a bribe, or not?

(Mey 211)

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slide22
Jennifer (Calling out to the back to the students in the big phonetics lab): Guys, what are you doing?
  • Students: Nothing…
  • Jennifer: WILL YOU STOP IT IMMEDIATELY!

22

slide23
“What I like best is doing nothing…. It’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it. ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?’ and you say, ‘Oh, nothing,’ and then you go and do it.”

(Milne, The House on Pooh Corner Chapter 10)

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speech act force
SPEECH ACT FORCE
  • Locutionary Force (what is said)
  • Illocutionary Force (what is intended)
  • Perlocutionary Force (the effects)

22

types of speech acts 1
TYPES OF SPEECH ACTS 1
  • Commissives (Affect Speaker, Subjective)
  • TYPES: Oath, Offer, Promise
  • Declaratives (Change the Macrocosmic Social World)
  • TYPES: Baptism, Marriage
  • Directives (Change the Microcosmic Social World)
  • TYPES: Command, Request
  • Expressives (Feelings of Speaker)
  • TYPES: Apology, Thanks

(Mey 120, Searle 1977, 34)

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types of speech acts 2
TYPES OF SPEECH ACTS 2
  • Interrogatives (Hearer Knows Best)
  • TYPES: Closed (yes-no), Loaded, Open
  • Imperatives (Directives) (Affect Hearer)
  • TYPES: Request, Requirement, Threat, Warning
  • Performatives (Affect world)
  • TYPES: Agreement, Appointment, Baptism, Declaration of Independence, Dedication, Marriage
  • Representatives (Objective Descriptive Statements)
  • TYPES: Statement that is either True or False

22

uptake
UPTAKE
  • Some speech acts like betting and thanking need an “uptake” from the listener. Consider the following:
  • BAR-LEV: Sir, I want to thank you for your cooperation and I want to thank you very much.
  • IDI AMIN: You know I did not succeed.

22

slide28
!BAR-LEV: I have been requested by a friend with good connections in the government to thank you for your cooperation. I don’t know what was meant by it, but I think you do know.
  • IDI AMIN: I don’t know because I’ve only now returned hurriedly from Mauritius

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context of bar lev conversation with idi amin
!!CONTEXT OF BAR-LEV CONVERSATION WITH IDI AMIN
  • Bar-Lev is an Israeli colonel
  • Idi Amin is the President of Uganda
  • Israeli paratroopers have entered Uganda without permission
  • Idi Amin heard that this was planned and left for Mauritius
  • Therefore if Idi Amin accepts the thanks, it means he agrees with the paratrooper drop. Since he was not in the country, he can’t be held responsible.

(Mey 282-283)

22

using questions to manage conflict in arabic tv broadcasts
Using questions to manage conflict in Arabic TV broadcasts
  • The felicity conditions for questioning
  • S: doesn’t know the answer
  • S: wants to know the answer from H
  • H: knows the answer
  • H: is willing to give the answer
  • Counter examples: teachers ask question to students in class; doctors ask patients in clinics; lawyers asks questions to jury and plaintiff or defendants in courts; game show hosts ask questions to guests

22

using questions to manage conflict cont 2
Using questions to manage conflict (cont. 2)
  • Arabic TV broadcasts
  • Highly competitive for ratings, highly controversial topics such as international ranking for Arabic Universities; modernization has downgraded Arabic women’s images; alleged human rights abuses among officials handling prisons.
  • Speakers are from various social, cultural and political backgrounds and won’t give in when challenged their beliefs.

22

questioning in conflict management cont 3
Questioning in conflict management (cont. 3)
  • Moderators deliberately seek out the differences among speakers and don’t necessarily intervene when disagreement escalate.
  • The viewers expect to see conflicts escalating and opinions clashed which further help with the popularity of the show.
  • Common paralinguistic strategies are questions, repetition, quoting Quran, shouting and walkouts.

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the example
The example
  • Although many questions used by the guests in the talk show are apparently information-seeking questions, they are used by the guests to challenge their opponents who often respond by providing avoidances, counter accusations, general facts, topic shifts, and challenges.
  • Two examples of these questions are provided in the following excerpt:

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the example cont
The example (cont.)
  • Excerpt 8 (Westernization of Arab Women))
  • 1. Sadiq: Sir, I have come here in order to defend the
  • 2. [modest woman]
  • 3. Qadi: [Why] the decent woman? Why?
  • 4. Sadiq: Because the modest woman is my mother, my sister, my aunt, my wife, my daughter, and the source of my happiness.
  • 6. Qadi: And how do you define modesty?
  • 7. Sadiq: She is my mother who I bow in front of her feet, moving toward Paradise.
  • 8. Paradise is there!

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the example cont1
The example (cont.)
  • In excerpt (8) above, Qadi, a liberal activist, uses two information-seeking questions to communicate opposition to the other guest, an Islamist activist, who vehemently opposes women\'s adoption of Western dress code.
  • The concept of muhtašimah \'modest\' in Arab-Islamic contexts refers to a muhajabah, that is, a woman covering her body and hair. This dress code is
  • considered by traditional and religious people like Sadiq to be the ideal one compared with other non-Islamic dress code that must be rejected.
  • On the other hand, liberal thinkers, like Qadi, encourage women to dress, and behave, according to Western values, and are often dissatisfied with traditional \'inflexibility\'.
  • Therefore, when Qadi asks Sadiq why the latter wants to defend only the muhtišimah woman, the question is meant to oppose Sadiq\'s traditional rejection of liberal women\'s behavior.

22

the second example of questioning
The second example of questioning
  • Another type of questions used to maintain opposition is rhetorical questions which do

not expect an answer or imply a negative answer.

  • Their function is to persuade the addressee of a certain point by encouraging the other guest to consider what the answer should be.

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second example cont1
Second example (cont1.)
  • The following excerpt includes examples of this type of questions:
  • Excerpt 9, (Arab Universities)
  • 1. ShaTir: Who can criticize Arab universities which have started since 1927? Who can criticize Cairo University, Damascus University, and Baghdad University that have been in existence since 1901 and 1908?
  • Zou\'bi: And where are they now?!

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second example cont2
Second example (cont2.)
  • In excerpt (9) above, ShaTir\'s first turn includes rhetorical questions which function to confront a long criticism presented by Zou\'bi regarding administrative boards at Arab universities and how they practice dictatorship against professors and the effect of such corruption on the absence of Arab universities from international rankings.
  • Rhetorical questions do not expect an answer from the addressee. Therefore, when they are used as opposing devices the addressee is not given the option to clarify his position and adjust the situation without being involved in conflict with the speaker.
  • When ShaTir directs two rhetorical questions to Zou\'bi, he intends to challenge him rather than receive answers for the questions, as the typical answer in such situations is negative.
  • Zou\'bi, who realizes ShaTir\'s oppositional intention, disagrees using another rhetorical question which casts doubt on the factuality of ShaTir\'s suggestion.

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slide39
References # 1:

Austin, J. L. How to Do Things with Words. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1962.

Blum-Kulka, Shoshana, Juliane House and Gabriele Kasper eds. Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1989.

Eschholz, Paul, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark. Language Awareness. Bedford/St. Martins, 2009.

Mey, Jacob L., ed. Concise Encyclopedia of Pragmatics. Oxford, England: Elsevier Science/Pergamon, 1998.

Mey, Jacob L. Pragmatics: An Introduction, 2nd Edition. Oxford, England, 2001.

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slide40
References # 2

Mey, Jacob L. When Voices Clash: A Study in Literary Pragmatics. Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter, 1999.

Mey, Jacob L. Whose Language? A Study in Linguistic Pragmatics. Philadelphia, PA: Benjamins, 1985.

Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20th Century American Humor. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.

Raskin, Victor. The Primer of Humor Research. New York, NY: Mouton de Gruyter, 2008.

Schiffrin, Deborah. Approaches to Discourse. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1994, pp. 49-96.

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slide41
References # 3

Searle, John R. A Classification of Illocutionary Acts.” In Proceedings of the Texas Conference on Performatives, Presuppositions, and Implicatures. Eds. Andy Rogers, Bob Wall and John P. Murphy, Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics, 1977, 27-45.

Searle, John R. “The Classification of Illocutionary Acts.” Language in Society 8 (1979): 137-151.

Searle, John R. "Indirect Speech Acts." Syntax and Semantics III: Speech Acts. New York, NY: Academic Press, 1975, 59-82.

Searle, John R. Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

Verschueren, Jef. Understanding Pragmatics. London, England: Arnold, 1999.

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