Speech Act Theory: Examining Language at the Utterance Level
As suggested in Chapter 1, we can date the emergence of modern pragmatics to the early 1970s when linguists turned to speech act theory. This theory was developed within the philosophy of language in the 1950s and 1960s in order to account for aspects of meaning, such as the status of sentences other than declaratives and the relation between [the utterance of] a sentence and the act it performs, which the truth-conditions semantics approach to meaning, predominant at the time (2.2.1), could not account for. Speech act theory rests upon the central notion of language as action — we do things with words, we do not simply describe states of affairs — and it attempts to define the links between meaning, language, and action (Schiffrin, 1994). As such, speech act theory represented a new conception of language for linguists, with a novel, if not revolutionary, approach to meaning.
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