Publication details [#67518]

Motschenbacher, Heiko. 2020. Coming out – seducing – flirting: Shedding light on sexual speech acts. Journal of Pragmatics 170 : 256–270.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject


This study investigates British and US gay men's comments on certain types of speech acts in their life narratives. This procedure yields folk linguistic evidence of the relationship between language and sexuality from a pragmatic point of view. At the theoretical level, the concept of “sexual speech act” (SSA) is introduced, distinguishing identity-related and desire-related SSAs. The analysis concentrates on gay men's comments on coming out as an identity-related SSA, and on seducing and flirting as desire-related SSAs. The narrated speech acts are analyzed quantitatively with respect to agency patterns, while a qualitative analysis of data extracts studies how narrators construct the illocutionary force and perlocutionary effects of SSAs, and how the SSAs are integrated in the contextual discursive construction of sexuality.