Analysis of Spoken English

478 Words2 Pages
What was Austin’s main insight into our understanding of language and communication? Using examples of your own, illustrate and discuss the three main ways in which utterances can be approached as acts in communication. Throughout twentieth century many philosophers have reflected on the significance and status of language. Logical positivists strived for an idealized language used solely for making statements. Contrariwise, ‘ordinary - language philosophers’ argued that verbal communication is a powerful tool for creating new states of affairs. J. L. Austin (1962) rejected formal semantics and claimed that speech can function in a performative way (Clark, 2007). Undoubtedly, this innovative concept has transformed modern linguistics, particularly pragmatics. This essay aims to examine Austin’s revolutionary speech act theory in relation to our everyday conversational interaction and explain how it has influenced our comprehension of language and verbal communication. In order to gain insight into Austinian account of the speech act theory, it is necessary to trace its history originated by the philosopher in the 1950s thorough to its importance for contemporary understanding of language. The concept of performativity aroused during the philosophical dispute over the language usage and approach (Loxley, 2007). Logical positivists’ extreme claims that only analytic statements can be meaningful were met with strong denials from ‘ordinary - language philosophers’ particularly Austin. He believed that conversations not always can be analyzed in terms of truth and falsity and formal approach fails to reveal the key language role (Austin, 1962 as cited in Wharton, 2011, p. 1). Austin pointed out that speaking is not just describing the world, but ultimately causing some actual change in it since ‘the issuing of an utterance is the performing of an action’ (1962, p.6).
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