Classical pragmatics

E.g.: baccy tobacco

E.g.: tiger

E.g.: tin-fish

block-buster 䳿

piper ,

outer -

bull -

sparks .


4. Vulgarisms rude words and expressions used mostly in the speech of lower levels of society.

E.g.: son of a bitch, bloody beast.

Some of these words oaths, curses, swear are very stabile, established by long use.

E.g.: damn it, to hell with, Goddamn, go to hell.


5. Jargonisms words used within certain social and professional groups, a sort of secret code, made up of ordinary words, invested with special agreed upon meaning, or distorted to look strange, or of borrowed words and expressions.

carpetbagger ,

Wet Triangle ϳ

to have soldiers supper

solid suit -

Japs -

the Widow .


6. Dialect words words and phrases used by inhabitants of certain regions of the country.

unbeknown unknown

winder window

loch lake.


We distinguish Cockney dialect language of former inhabitants of London slums (East End).

e.g.: die (day), mike (make), plice (place), loaf (head), bob (shilling), quid (pound), barney (fight), moll (woman).

The traditions in pragmatics were inaugurated by the J.L. Austin and H.P. Grice. Both of these philosophers were interested in the area of pragmatics which can be called beyond saying: a fairly clear distinction could be made between what is said, the output of the realm of semantics, and what is conveyed or accomplished in particular linguistic and social context in or by saying something, the realm of pragmatics. What is said is sort of a boundary; semantics is on the near side, and those parts of pragmatics that were the focus of the classic period are on the far side.

The British philosopher John Langshaw Austin (b. 1911d. 1960) was intrigued by the way that we can use words to do different things. Whether one asserts or merely suggests, promises or merely indicates an intention, persuades or merely argues, depends not only on the literal meaning of one's words, but what one intends to do with them, and the institutional and social setting in which the linguistic activity occurs.

John Austin is the person who is usually credited with generating interest in what has since come to be known as pragmatics and speech act theory. His book titled How to do things with words was published in 1962. His first step was to show that some utterance are not statements but actions. He reached this conclusion through an analysis of what he termed performative verbs. Let us consider the following sentences:

I pronounce you man and wife.

I declare war on France.

I name this ship The Albatros.

I bet you 5 dollars it will rain.

I apologize.

The peculiar thing about these sentences, according to J. Austin, is that they are not used to say or describe things, but rather actively to do things. That is why J. Austin termed them as performatives and contrasted them to statements (he called them constatives). Thus by pronouncing a performative utterance the speaker is performing an action. The performative utterance can really change things under certain circumstances. J. Austin specified the circumstances required for the success as felicity conditions. The utterances will have no effect unless a number of obvious conditions are met. If the felicity conditions are not satisfied, then the resulting utterance is not really right or wrong: it is merely infelicitous, and it has no effect (or at least not the intended effect). Performatives may be explicit and implicit:

I promise I will come tomorrow. I will come tomorrow.

I swear I love you. I love you.

J. Austin identified three distinct levels of action beyond the act of utterance itself. He distinguishes:

1) the act of saying smth.

2) what one does in saying it

3) what one does by saying it.

Thus the action performed by producing an utterance will consist of three related acts:

1. locutionary act the act of saying smth. and its basic content, producing a meaningful linguistic expression, uttering a sentence. If you have difficulty with actually forming the sounds and words to create a meaningful utterance (because you are a foreigner or tongue-tied), then you might fail to produce a locutionary act: it often happens when we learn a foreign language. Saying something can also be viewed from three different perspectives: (i) as a phonetic act: uttering certain noises; (ii) as a phatic act: uttering words "belonging to and as belonging to, a certain vocabulary, conforming to and as conforming to a certain grammar"; and (iii) as a rhetic act: uttering words "with a certain more-or-less definite sense and reference". Now, to perform a locutionary act is also in general to perform an illocutionary act; in performing a locutionary act, we perform an act with a certain force: ordering, warning, assuring, promising, expressing an intention, and so on.

In other terms it can be explained as a formal meaning of the utterance without reference to its function within discourse.

2. illocutionary act what you are trying to do by speaking. We form an utterance with some kind of function of mind, with a definite communicative intention or illocutionary force. The notion of illocutionary force, or illocutionary meaning, is basic for pragmatics. J. Austin especially emphasized the importance of social fact and conventions in doing things with words, in particular with respect to the class of speech acts known as illocutionary acts.

The window is open may be a request (It is awfully cold here would you mind shutting the window?) or a suggestion (A: I cant get out of the room the door is stuck fast. B: The window is open why you do not climb out?) or smth. else.

Today the term speech act is often used to denote specifically an illocutionary act (promising, threatening, informing, persuading, defending, blaming, etc.), and the intended effect of a speech act is illocutionary force.

3. perlocutionary act the effect of what you say, the effect that the utterancehads on the hearer. Perlocutionary effect may be verbal or non-verbal, e.g. I bought a car. Great! (verbal)

The window is open and you close a window (non-verbal).


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