Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
An illocutionary act is any speech act that amounts to stating, questioning, commanding, promising, and so on. It is an act performed in saying something, as contrasted with a locutionary act, the act of saying something, the locution.
Illocutionary force is the effect a speech act has in the world. In certain situations, for example, merely uttering the words "I resign" effects one's resignation. In this example, the resignation is the illocutionary force of the utterance.
Some utterances' illocutionary force is less obvious: if someone says, "it sure is cold in here", the effect of the statement is contextual. It could be that the person is simply describing the room, in which case the illocutionary force would the description of the temperature of the room. If it is possible to change the environment, say by turning up the heat or closing a window, the person's intent may be to get someone else to do something about the cold, in which case the illocutionary force would be the other person's action.
Illocutionary force indicators
Illocutionary force indicators show how a given proposition is to be taken, what illocutionary force the utterance is to have, or what illocutionary act the speaker is performing. Examples in English include: word order, stress, intonation contour, punctuation, the mood of the verb, performative verbs, and context. In English, illocutionary force indicators are not always readily identifiable. They are sometimes hidden in the deep structure of the sentence.
An illocutionary negation can be distinguished from a propositional negation by considering the difference between "I do not promise to come." and "I promise not to come." The first is an illocutionary negation - the 'not' negates the promise. The second is a propositional negation. Generally, illocutionary negations change the type of illocutionary act.
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