Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lingo: Locutionary, Illocutionary, and Perlocutionary Acts

John: "Darling, do you want to go out to the show tonight?"

Laura: "I'm feeling ill."

John: "That's ok. You stay there and I'll make soup."
Notice how Laura didn't respond to John's question by saying, "No, I don't want to go out to the show tonight." What she actually said — her locutionary act — was "I'm feeling ill."

An illocutionary act is what a person does in saying something else. Locution is speech. In-locution (in speaking) becomes il-locution through phonetic assimilation. In saying that she feels ill, Laura was telling John that she doesn't want go out.

Beyond communicating the state of her health and the answer to John's question, Laura accomplished one more thing through saying "I'm feeling ill." She got John to make her some soup. A perlocutionary act (per-locutionary, through speaking) is focused on the response others have to a speech act.

These terms from J.L. Austin's 1962 book How to Do Things with Words are used extensively in philosophical literature today. And in fiction, having a character who is deaf to the illocutionary force of language is always good comedy.

15 comments:

  1. I got the idea, thanks so much.

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  2. This example really helps.
    Thank you very much.

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  3. Thank you very much :) It really helps me.

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  4. the door is open...
    how do you analyze it?

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  5. I want to add sth. By saying "I'm feeling ill" in the example, doesn't necessary mean that Laura wants John to make her soup, because it is supposed that perlocutionary act is WHAT we want to cause in the listener by saying sth, and in the example she doesn't show she wants to obtain that.

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  6. I think you're describing a perlocutionary intention, not a perlocutionary act. I understood Austin to be saying a perlocutionary act is a result which could have been intended or not.

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  7. it means that "close the door please..."

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  8. Great example!! I finally understood this shit

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  9. thanks for the info...

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  10. Ilham Ahmad SetiawanMarch 30, 2014 at 11:46 PM

    very good example,... thank u very much

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  11. Thanks for the information. it'll help me in finishing work on discourse analysis.

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  12. Ill never understand what the *@!!# perlocutionary means. Im beginning to think it doesnt exist.

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  13. Now it makes sense :) Thank you!

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