Importance Of Speech Act Theory

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Introduction Language plays an important role in our daily lives. It functions as a medium to transfer information, exchange ideas and give opinions verbally. According to Searle (1976, 16), the act of performing speech acts implies speaking a language. The act of creating statements, commanding and questioning are all part of speech acts. In simple terms, speech acts are in fact the basic units of linguistic communication. Speech acts are not mere artificial linguistic constructs but rather go together with the enquiry of context which is important to decode a whole utterance and its meaning (Searle, 1976).

John L. Austin was responsible for laying the foundation of the Speech Act Theory on which the idea was mainly used in both linguistics
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Illocutionary acts are important in communication to express an idea or assertion which promotes particular types of actions like stating, questioning, requesting, commanding and threatening. These actions are performed by a speaker when producing an utterance. Yule (1996:48) stated that illocutionary acts are performed through the illocutionary force of an utterance. In simple terms, illocutionary acts determine how an utterance is to be accepted in a conversation. Illocutionary acts are not always easy to be categorized when a person speaks. There are many complications ranging from unambiguous performative verbs, paralinguistic features (stress, timbre and intonation) and word order which should be taken in to comprehension. To correctly decode illocutionary acts performed by speakers, the hearer should be acquainted with the context the speech occurs in. Mey (1993) made this clear by stating a person should not believe a speech act to occur, unless a person considers or creates the appropriate …show more content…
The speaker’s intention is to warn another individual to not bring up any issue that the speaker finds unimportant and takes up his time. Therefore, the sentence highlighted shows an indirect speech act. Rather than a more direct approach like “I don’t to waste my time”, it shows that the addressee is attempting to save face and to show that the speaker is not rough in the way he speaks. It also has an indirect relationship between its structure and function because the sentence does not mean the literal meaning but rather an intention to make a request.

Data 3:
Jessie glanced from side to side with a shiver. “That means he must have been watching us the whole time,” she whispered. “That’s scary!” (Lee, 2009, p. 14)

Explanation:
From the utterance above, it has shown the declarative sentence: “That’s scary!” is a direct speech act. The phrase uttered by the speaker shows a statement of dissent where the declarative is used to make a statement. She is of opinion that the act of someone watching them is terrifying. It also shows a clear relationship between the structure of the sentence and its function.

Data 4:
Jessie tugged my sleeve. “Wayne! You don’t think he took the skulls, do you?” she whispered out of the corner of her mouth. (Lee, 2009, p. 18)

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