#3 - Speech acts


There is a clear difference between statements that describe and statements that command. This idea was developed by the british linguist J.L. Austin. He defines this distinction as two separate parts of speech:
  • Constatives: They are sentences that describe something as True or False.
  • Performatives: They are sentences that denote an action, rather that conveying a message they act upon the world.
They depend on Felicity Conditions: Context and Reception.
These are the rules under which the performatives can be enacted.
They are fairly logical, the performative should be:
  • Authoritative
  • Understood
  • Clear
  • Able to understand
If it doesn´t meet these conditions, then it doesn´t have the power to denote action. But just because a performative meets its conditions and it´s clearly stated, it doesn´t mean that it is implicitly followed.

Speech Acts: When words are actions.
These actions include (but are not limited to):
  1. Ordering
  2. Promising
  3. Apologising
  4. Warning
  5. Sentencing
  6. Christening
  7. Marrying