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Speech Act Theory

Speech act theory is concerned with communication and the use of language for communication. The theory emerged in response to a linguistic focus on semantics, which addresses the meaning of words and their combinations, and pragmatics, which is concerned with the rules and modification of language in social use. First, studies focused on the act of speaking during conversations. This changed over time to include vocal and nonverbal aspects of communication. According to speech act theory, speakers and listeners jointly negotiate conversation, so meaning is fluid and dependent on what participants are trying to accomplish. Therefore, speech act theorists are interested in the intended and instantiated use of words rather than the meaning of a particular word or word combination. The very same words might ...

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