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October 20 , 2008

Speech Act Phenomenology


The nature and function of language as Man's chief vehicle of communi­ cation occupies a focal position in the human sciences, particularly in philosophy. The concept of 'communication' is problematic because it suggests both 'meaning' (the nature of language) and the activity of speaking (the function of language). The philosophic theory of 'speech acts' is one attempt to clarify the ambiguities of 'speech' as both the use of language to describe states of affair and the process in which that description is generated as 'communication'. The present study, Speech Act Phenomenology, is in part an exam­ ination of speech act theory. The theory offers an explanation for speech performance, that is, the structure of speech acts as 'relationships' and the content of speech acts as 'meaning'. The primary statement of the speech act theory that is examined is that presented by Austin. A seconda­ ry concern is the formulation of the theory as presented by Searle and Grice. The limitations of the speech act theory are specified by applying the theory as an explanation of 'human communication'. This conceptual examination of 'communication' suggests that the philosophic method of 'analysis' does not resolve the antinomy of language 'nature' and 'function'. Basically, the conceptual distinctions of the speech act theory (i. e. locutions, illocutions, and perlocutions) are found to be empty as a comprehensive explanation of the concept 'communication'.
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