Speech act theory

Marina Sbisà
Table of contents

Many problems that we now consider as proper to speech act theory have already been formulated or at least hinted at on other occasions during the history of Western philosophy and linguistics. Philosophers have been concerned with the relation between the meaning of words, the expression of a proposition, and the act of assertion. Aristotle distinguished between the meaning of words and the assertiveness of declarative sentences (Perí Hermeneias 16b 26–30). Philosophers of language, rhetoricians and linguists have been aware of the variety of uses or functions of language. The Greek sophist Protagoras was probably the first to classify modes of discourse which roughly corresponded to kinds of speech acts; the theory of language of the Stoics, which was to become very influential for the development of grammatical studies, distinguished judgements, which alone are true or false, from wh-questions, polar questions, imperatives and expressions of wish, correlating their function with their grammatical form.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price.


Alston, W.P.
2000Illocutionary acts and sentence meaning. Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Apel, K.O.
1991Is intentionality more basic than linguistic meaning? In E. Lepore & R. Van Gulick (eds.): 31–55.Google Scholar
Asher, N. & A. Lascarides
2001Indirect speech acts. Synthese 128: 183–228. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Austin, J.L.
1946Other Minds. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. Suppl. vol. 20.Google Scholar
1961Philosophical papers. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
1962How to do things with words. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Bach, K. & R.M. Harnish
1979Linguistic communication and speech acts. MIT Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Ballmer, T.T. & W. Brennenstuhl
1981Speech act classification. Springer. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Benveniste, E.
1966Problèmes de linguistique générale. Gallimard.Google Scholar
Berlin, I. et al.
1973Essays on J. L. Austin. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Black, M.
(ed.) 1964Philosophy in America. Allen & Unwin.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Blum-Kulka, S., J. House & G. Kasper
(eds.) 1989Cross-cultural pragmatics. Ablex.  BoPGoogle Scholar
(eds.) 1989Investigating cross-cultural pragmatics. In S. Blum-Kulka, J. House & G. Kasper (eds.): 1–34.Google Scholar
Brown, P. & S.C. Levinson
1978Universals in language usage. In E.N. Goody (ed.): 56–289.  BoPGoogle Scholar
1987Politeness. Cambridge University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Bühler, K.
1934Sprachtheorie. Fischer.Google Scholar
Cappelen, H. & E. Lepore
2005Insensitive semantics: a defense of semantic minimalism and speech act pluralism. Blackwell.  BoP DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Caffi, C.
1999On mitigation. Journal of Pragmatics 31: 881–909. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Cohen, P.R., J. Morgan & M.E. Pollack
(eds.) 1990Intentions in communication. MIT Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Cole, P. & J.L. Morgan
(eds.) 1975Syntax and Semantics 3. Academic Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Croft, W.
1994Sentence typology and the taxonomy of speech acts. In S.L. Tsohatzidis (ed.): 460–77.Google Scholar
Davidson, D.
1979Moods and performances. In A. Margalit (ed.): 9–20. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1984Truth and interpretation. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Duranti, A.
1988Intention, language and social action in a Samoan context. Journal of Pragmatics 12: 13–33. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Van Eemeren, F.H. & R. Grootendorst
2004A Systematic Theory of Argumentation. Cambridge.Google Scholar
FetzerA. & C. Meierkord
(eds.) 2002Rethinking sequentiality. John Benjamins. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Frege, G.
1879Begriffsschrift. Nebert.Google Scholar
1918Der Gedanke. Eine logische Untersuchung. Beitraege zur Philosophie des deutschen Idealismus 1(2): 58–77.Google Scholar
Gazdar, G.
1979Pragmatics. Academic Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
1981Speech act assignment. In A.K. Joshi, B.L. Webber & I.A. Sag (eds.): 64–83.Google Scholar
Geis, M.L.
1995Speech acts and conversational interaction. Cambridge. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Goody, E.N.
(ed.) 1978Questions and politeness. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Green, M.S.
2000Illocutionary force and semantic content. Linguistics & Philosophy 23: 435–473. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Grice, H.P.
1957Meaning. The Philosophical Review 66: 377–388. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1975Logic and conversation. In P. Cole & J.L. Morgan (eds.): 41–58.Google Scholar
1989Studies in the way of words. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Habermas, J.
1981Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns. Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
Hausendorf, H. & A. Bora
(eds.) in press Analysing citizenship talk John Benjamins DOI logo  BoP
Holmes, J.
1984Modifying illocutionary force. Journal of Pragmatics 8: 345–365. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Jakobs, R.A. & P.S. Rosenbaum
(eds.) 1970Readings in English transformational grammar. Ginn.Google Scholar
Joshi, A.K., B.L. Webber & I.A. Sag
(eds.) 1981Elements of discourse understanding. Cambridge University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Katriel, T. & M. Dascal
1989Speaker’s commitment and involvement in discourse. In Y. Tobin (ed.): 275–295. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Leech, G.N.
1983Principles of pragmatics. Longman.Google Scholar
Lepore, E. & R. Van Gulick
(eds.) 1991John Searle and his critics. Blackwell.Google Scholar
Levinson, S.C.
1983Pragmatics. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Lyons, J.
1977Semantics. Cambridge University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Margalit, A.
(ed.) 1979Meaning and use. Reidel. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Mcgowan, M.-K.
2003Conversational exercitives and the force of pornography. Philosophy and Public Affairs 31: 155–189. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Récanati, F.
1981Les énoncés performatifs. Minuit.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Rosaldo, M.Z.
1982The things we do with words : Ilongot speech acts and speech act theory in philosophy. Language in Society 11 : 203–237. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ross, J.R.
1970On declarative sentences. In R.A. Jakobs & P.S. Rosenbaum (eds.): 222–272.Google Scholar
Sbisà, M.
1984On illocutionary types. Journal of Pragmatics 8: 93–112. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
2001Illocutionary force and degrees of strength in language use. Journal of Pragmatics 33: 1791–1814. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
2002Cognition and narrativity in speech act sequences. In A. Fetzer & C. Meierkord (eds.): 71–98. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
in press) Communicating citizenship in verbal interaction: principles of a speech act oriented discourse analysis. In H. Hausendorf & A. Bora (eds.) DOI logo
Searle, J.R.
1964What is a speech act? In M. Black (ed.): 120–136.Google Scholar
1968Austin on locutionary and illocutionary acts. The Philosophical Review 77: 405–424. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1969Speech acts. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1975Indirect speech acts. In P. Cole & J.L. Morgan (eds.): 59–82.Google Scholar
1976A classification of illocutionary acts. Language in Society 5(1): 1–23. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1979Expression and meaning. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1983Intentionality. Harvard University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1989How performatives work. Linguistics and Philosophy 12: 535–558. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Searle, J.R. & D. Vanderveken
1985Foundations of illocutionary logic. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Sperber, D. & D. Wilson
1986Relevance. Blackwell.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Strawson, P.F.
1950On referring. Mind 59: 320–344. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1964Intention and convention in speech acts. The Philosophical Review 73: 439–460. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
1973Austin and ‘locutionary meaning’. In I. Berlin et al. : 46–68.Google Scholar
Tobin, Y.
(ed.) 1989From sign to text. John Benjamins. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Travis, Ch.
2000Unshadowed Thought. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Tsohatzidis, S.L.
(ed.) 1994Foundations of Speech Act Theory. Routledge.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Vendler, Z.
1972Res cogitans. Cornell University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Verschueren, J.
1983Review article on speech act classification. Language 59: 166–175. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1985What people say they do with words. Ablex.  BoPGoogle Scholar
1989Language on language. Papers in Pragmatics 3(2).  BoPGoogle Scholar
Warnock, G.J.
1973Some types of performative utterances. In I. Berlin et al.: 69–89.Google Scholar
Weigand, E.
1994Discourse, conversation, dialogue. In E. Weigand (ed.): 49–75.  BoPGoogle Scholar
(ed.) 1994Concepts of dialogue. Niemeyer.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Wierzbicka, A.
1991Cross-cultural pragmatics. Mouton de Gruyter.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Wittgenstein, L.
1922Tractatus logico-philosophicus. Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
1953Philosophische Untersuchungen/Philosophical investigations. Blackwell.Google Scholar
1958The Blue and Brown Books. Blackwell.Google Scholar
1969über Gewissheit/On certainty. Blackwell. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Wunderlich, D.
1976Studien zur Sprechakttheorie. Suhrkamp.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Zaefferer, D.
2001Deconstructing a classical classification: a typological look at Searle’s concept of illocution type. Revue Internationale de Philosophie 55: 209–225.Google Scholar
Related articles: Analytical philosophy, Artificial intelligence, John L. Austin, émile Benveniste, Clinical pragmatics, Conversational implicature, Conversational logic, Indeterminacy and negotiation, Intentionality, Philosophy of language, Truthfulness