The Tripartite Structure of Speech Act

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Praxis International Journal of Social Science and Literature
Abstract The speech act theory, introduced by J. L. Austin in 1962, claims for a third level of language in use analysis which is analysing utterances as linguistic acts (i.e., speech acts). By focusing on the non-literal meaning that arises in language in use, a given speech act is contextualized within a tripartite structure of: utterance, intention (speaker), and purpose (hearer) which correspond respectively to: locutionary act, illocutionary act, and perlocutionary act. This article attempts to trace this tripartite structure of speech act, with much focus on addressing potential gaps, then, calling for important refinements. This takes place as the main aim of this paper is to call for a contextualization of language in use within a larger context of action, within which the illocutionary act is but a level of language action potential. In doing so, referring to some scholars’ contribution, especially that of van Dijk and Searle, is a necessary step to go through.