• Speech Act – Any actual event of speaking, according to John Austin.  His influential speech acts theory contains other important buzzwords, listed below.
  • Locutionary Act/ Illocutionary Act – Each speech act has both of these.  Locution is the act of saying something, while illocution is the act of doing something with speech.  John Searle categorized illocutions into specific types, such as declarations, questions, directives, representatives, expressives, and commissives.
  • Felicity Conditions – Another of Austin’s buzzwords, used to describe the significance of context for the success of any speech act.  A speaker must meet these conditions, which include preparatory and sincerity conditions, in order to successfully speak. 
  • Performative – Again, Austin’s term for a verb that actually performs the illocutionary act that it names.  In “I promise to bring the drinks,” the word promise is serving as a performative verb.  In “I will bring the drinks,” there is no performative verb used.
  • Indirect Speech Act – When the syntactic form of an utterance does not match the illocutionary force.  These can be difficult for language learners, though their use can lead to powerful implications.  An example is, “I wouldn’t mind some help.”
  • Conversational Maxims – Now we’re on to a different linguistic philosopher – Paul Grice.  There are four maxims that when not met lead to a violation of the cooperative principle.
    • Maxim of Quantity – This suggests that an utterance should have just the right amount of information; not too much or too little. 
    • Maxim of Quality – An utterance should be truthful and based on sufficient evidence.
    • Maxim of Relation – Don’t change the subject.
    • Maxim of Manner – If you don’t say something how you’re expected to, then there must be a reason why.  If I ask you, “Who won the game?” And you yell the answer at me, then your yelling is communicating something beyond the words you use.
  • Cooperative Principle – People that are speaking are trying to communicate.  When one of the maxims is violated, this implies communication beyond the words that are used.  People that intentionally flout a maxim are trying to cooperate by using these violations to communicate.  This is different from when a person intentionally flouts a maxim in order to deceive, or when a person accidentally flouts a maxim, because of being out of touch with a listener’s needs.
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