Types of Speech Act

Speech context and speech styles are just two parts of a Communicative Strategy. The third prerequisite is the Speech Act. The three types of speech acts are Locution, Illocution, and Perlocution. A Locutionary Speech Act occurs when the speaker performs an utterance (locution), which has a meaning in the traditional sense. An Illocutionary Speech Act is the performance of the act of saying something with a specific intention. A Perlocutionary Speech Act happens when what the speaker says has an effect on the listener.

Locutionary Speech Act

This Act happens with the utterance of a sound, a word, or even a phrase as a natural unit of speech. What is required for the utterance to be a Locutionary Act is that it has sense, and most importantly, for Communication to take place, has the same meaning to both the Speaker and the Listener. In fact, the utterance gives rise to shared meaning when it is adjusted by the Speaker for the Listener. Even though the utterance might be a sound, a word, or a phrase, the utterance follows the rules of language.

Examples of Locutionary Acts:

“Doh!” (a favorite expression of TV cartoon character Homer Simpson)

“What?” (when someone is surprised)

“It’s a bird!” (when people see Superman in the sky)

Illocutionary Speech Act

In an Illocutionary Speech Act, it is not just saying something itself but the act_of saying something with the intention of:

  • stating an opinion, confirming, or denying something;
  • making a prediction, a promise, a request;
  • issuing an order or a decision; or
  • giving advice or permission.

This Speech Act uses the Illocutionary Force of a statement, a confirmation, a denial, a prediction, a promise, a request, etc.

Examples of Illocutionary Acts:

There’s too much homework in this subject. (opinion)

I’ll do my homework later. (promise)

Go do your homework! (order)

Perlocutionary Speech Act

This is seen when a particular effect is sought from either the Speaker, the Listener, or both. The response may not necessarily be physical or verbal and is elicited by:

  • inspiring or insulting;
  • persuading/convincing; or
  • deterring/scaring.

The aim of a Perlocutionary Speech Act is to change feelings, thoughts, or actions.

Examples of Perlocutionary Acts:

“I was born a Filipino, I will live a Filipino, I will die a Filipino!” (inspiring)

“It is the bleak job situation that forces Filipinos to find jobs overseas.” (persuading)

“Texting while driving kills—you, your loved ones, other people (deterring)

Speech Acts are useful in crafting the Types of Speech Styles or its combinations. These Speech Styles are used in specific Speech Contexts, which are based on the Speech Purpose and the number of participants.