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Lodz Papers in Pragmatics

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Speech acts and the autonomy of linguistic pragmatics

Iwona Witczak-Plisiecka1

University of Łódź1

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Citation Information: Lodz Papers in Pragmatics. Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 85–106, ISSN (Online) 1898-4436, ISSN (Print) 1895-6106, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/v10016-009-0008-8, July 2009

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Speech acts and the autonomy of linguistic pragmatics

This paper comments on selected problems of the definition of linguistic pragmatics with a focus on notions associated with speech act theory in the tradition of John Langshaw Austin. In more detail it concentrates on the (ir)relevance of the use of the Austinian categorisation into locution, illocution, and perlocution in locating a divide in between pragmatics and semantics, and especially the distinction between the locutionary act and the illocutionary act and its implications for the definition of pragmatics and its separation from the semantic theory.

The relation between form and meaning is further briefly reviewed against dichotomies including the Gricean and neo-Gricean ‘what is said’ versus ‘what is implicated’ or meant, between what can be ‘locuted’, but not said, and what can be said, but not asserted. These dichotomies are related to the theoretical commitments as to the accepted operative forces in speech acts, primarily convention and intention. It is suggested that, roughly, the development of the speech act theory can be viewed as a process by which the theory moves away from its originally sociolinguistic orientation towards a more psychologistic account, which in turn leads towards diminishing the role of (traditional) semantics and the subsequent juxtaposition of pragmatics and syntax rather than pragmatics and semantics.

Keywords: speech act; pragmatics; semantics; illocution; locution; John L. Austin

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Iwona Witczak-Plisiecka and Maciej Witek
Lodz Papers in Pragmatics, 2009, Volume 5, Number 1, Page 1

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