Speech Act Theory 1

This material of speech Act Theory 1 is the first part of 3 parts of the speech act theory according my lecturing note and presentation on the subjects of discourse analysis in linguistics. My discourse analysis on speech act theory was base on review of the book “Approaches to Discourse” by Deborah Schiffrin, published by Blackwell in 1995. There are four parts in the chapter of Speech act theory; I make 3 parts separately publish in my blog. Speech act theory 1 is part 1 and an half of part 2. Part one of speech act theory 1 is introduction to speech act and an half of part two is about Defining Speech Act Theory, from Austin explanation. I make some example of the explanation in form of Bahasa Indonesia not in form of English language.
 This is introduction of SpeechAct Theory 1

  1. Introduction

Critical concept and ideas introduced by two philosophers, which are John Austin (in 1962) and John Searle (in 1969). They belief, language is used to perform action. Therefore, speech act theory is focus on how meaning and action related to language.
The initial concept of speech ac is not to analyzing the discourse then Labov and Fanshel (1977) developed speech act theory in analyzing discourse.

Speech act in discourse analysis:
-          One utterance in difference speech act
-          Relationship of context to Illocutionary force
-          (the act performed “in saying” the locution or ada makna ada maksud)

  1. Defining Speech Act Theory
Oxford philosopher J.L. Austin is foremost attributed to developing this theory. Austin formulated his ideas on speech act theory in the 1930’s and lectured on them at both Oxford and Harvard in the first half of the 1950’s. After Austin’s death one of his former students, John R. Searle, took many of Austin’s ideas and concepts on speech act theory and further elaborated and refined them.

What is definition of speech act when we are study in discourse analysis? Below the explanation of speech act based on Austin.

        Austin: from performative to illocutionary act  
In 1962 a compilation of Austin Lecture’s compiled in How to Do Things with Word (1962).There are necessary properties in a statement, which is call as a truth value. Therefore, Speech Actdefinition based on Austin is the uttering of the sentence is the doing of an action, not only just saying something.

What is aspect of condition the speech acts?
Speech act aspects condition based on Austin: context and text

For example:
“I Do” (utterance in wedding ceremony).
(Sah, penghulu “saya nikahkan ...”)
“I name this ship the Lady of Dream” (Utterance when smashing the bottle to the ship/ stern)
(dengan ini saya buka PON ke-71 di ...) presiden
“You are out” (Referee statement to the players)

The speech act my varied in difference condition / circumstance.
Formal = permisi saya mau pergi
Informal = pergi dulu ya..
Speech act need certain procedure and certain effect, person

In Austins initial work with speech act theory he divided utterances into two types, Performatives and Constatives.

2.1.1. Performatives
What is Performatives according speech act theory?
According to speech act theory, performatives is an utterance which performs an act.
tuturan yang  melakukan tindakan (perform the action)”

Tuturan performatif (performative utterance) adalah tuturan yang memperlihatkan bahwa suatu perbuatan telah diselesaikan pembicara dan bahwa dengan mengungkapkannya berarti perbuatan itu diselesaikan pada saat itu juga. Dievalausi dari tepat dan kurang tepat

Performatives, need to be performed
Sample of Performatives on speech act are:
  1. “I Do” (utterance in wedding ceremony).
  2. (Sah, penghulu “saya nikahkan ...”)
  3. “I name this ship the Lady of Dream” (Utterance when smashing the bottle to the ship/ stern)
  4. (dengan ini saya buka PON ke-71 di ...) presiden
  5. “You are out” (Referee statement to the players)
  6. I pronounce you man and wife.
  7. I sentence you to 50 years in prison.
  8. I promise to drive you to Berlin.

Performatives consider to felicitous and infelicitous evaluation.
Austin initially also believes that Performatives can not be verified as true or false.
Performatives require appropriate circumstances and language.
cara berbicara akan berbeda dalam situasi yang berbeda, bicara di dalam kelas dengan berbicara di laur kelas akan berbeda

There is a contextual and textual condition in performatives on the speech act theory 1.
a. Explicit Performatives = have a verb
“I go”
“Go away”
b. Primary Performatives = without a verb
“It is yours”
“You are good”

This is the end of speech act theory 1. You can check another explanation of speech act theories purposes by Searle in another part of my post. There is another speech act explanation about speech acts and events here. The Speech act Theory 1 from the book of “Approaches to Discourse” was on the Chapter 3, page 45 to page 96.


  1. So good article. :)

    But, i still can do speech good. :(

  2. Thank you :)
    This is only the theory, just speak up :)


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