A classification of illocutionary acts1
JOHN R. SEARLE
There are at least a dozen linguistically significant dimensions of differences between illocutionary acts. Of these, the most important are illocutionary point, direction of fit, and expressed psychological state. These three form the basis of a taxonomy of the fundamental classes of illocutionary acts. The five basic kinds of illocutionary acts are: representatives (or assertives), directives, commissives, expressives, and declarations. Each of these notions is defined. An earlier attempt at constructing a taxonomy by Austin is defective for several reasons, especially in its lack of clear criteria for distinguishing one kind of illocutionary force from another. Paradigm performative verbs in each of the five categories exhibit different syntactical properties. These are explained.
One of the crucial questions in studying language in society is, 'How many ways of using language are there? Most of the attempts to answer that question suffer from an unclarity about what constitutes a use of language in the first place. If you believe, as I do, that the basic unit of human linguistic communication is the illocutionary act, then the most important form of the original question will be, 'How many categories of illocutionary acts are there?' This article attempts to answer that question.
The primary purpose of this paper, then, is to develop a reasoned classification of illocutionary acts into certain basic categories or types. Since any such attempt to develop a taxonomy must take into account Austin's classification of illocutionary acts into his five basic categories of____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Cultural Communication and Intercultural Contact. Contributors: Donal Carbaugh - Editor. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Hillsdale, NJ. Publication year: 1990. Page number: 349.
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