Speech Acts


‘Actions that are carried out through language are called speech acts, […] six have received particular attention:

  1. Representatives represent a state of affairs: assertions, statements, claims, hypotheses, descriptions, suggestions. Representatives can generally be characterized as true or false.
  2. Commissives commit a speaker to a course of action: promises, pledges, threats, vows.
  3. Directives are intended to get the addressee to carry out an action:  commands, requests, challenges, invitations, entreaties, dares.
  4. Declarations bring about the state of affairs they name: blessings, hirings and firings, baptisms, arrests, marryings, declaring mistrials.
  5. Expressives indicate the speaker’s psychological state of attitude: greetings, apologies, congratulations, condolences, thanksgivings.
  6. Verdictives makes assessments or judgements: ranking, assessing, appraising, condoning. Because some verdictives (such as calling a baseball player “out”) combine the characteristics of declarations and representatives, these are sometimes called representational declarations.’

– Finegan. E. 2008. Language, Its Structure And Use Stamford, CT, United States: Cengage Learning (2012) p. 305

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7 thoughts on “Speech Acts

  1. I do enjoy those times when I can belly up to the bar of knowledge – the service here is excellent and the knowledge 100 proof.

  2. So well said… you know Arch, you’re aging just like a really good wine.

    Seriously (I can do that) that was quite the mouthful, but certainly elucidating. Did I understand it? Hmmmm… honestly? Probably half of it, but I saved it to have sip now and then. Who knows, I may be able to use some of those smart words in an essay, pretend I’m smarter than I am, even edjimakated. (Had a chuckle about your own term: rantus interruptus!

  3. Had a chuckle about your own term: rantus interruptus!

    Me too.

    BTW, interesting new avatar!

  4. you know Arch, you’re aging just like a really good wine.

    Some say I’ve already turned to vinegar.

  5. And noticing the similarity, I chose ‘avatar’ as opposed to ‘gravitar’, a WP term.

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