Islamic Azad University
Central Tehran branch
Faculty of foreign languages
Thesis Submitted In Partial Fulfillment Of The Requirement For
The Degree Of Arts In Teaching English As
A Foreign Language
The Comparative Effect of Cooperative and Competitive Learning on EFL Learners’ Achievement of Speech Acts

Dr. Nasim Shangarfam
Dr. Hamid Marashi Zade
Shadi Baniali
September 2013
In the name of God,
The Most Compassionate, The Most Merciful
My parents, who gave me love, encouragement and guidance and my loving sister for her life-long support.
First and above all, I praise Allah, the almighty for providing me this opportunity and granting me the capability to proceed successfully. This thesis appears in its current form due to the assistance and guidance of several people. I would therefore like to offer my sincere thanks to all of them.
I would like to express my deep and sincere gratitude to my advisor Dr. Nasim Shangarfam for her patience, motivation enthusiasm and immense knowledge. Without her I would not have achieved my goals for this thesis. Her support, guidance, advice and meticulous comments and revisions of various drafts of each chapter throughout the research project are greatly appreciated. I could not have imagined having a better advisor for my research.
I wish to express my warm and sincere thanks to my reader Dr. Hamid Marashi Zade for taking the time to read my thesis and offer suggestions. His immense knowledge and logical way of thinking have been always of great value to me not only on this project but also all throughout my graduate studies.
I owe my loving thanks to my family members, especially my parents for their constant support and loving care that means more than I can express trough words. My graduation would not have been achieved without their best wishes for me.
Last but not least, I offer my regards and blessing to all those who supported me in any respect during the completion of this thesis.

The present study was an attempt to investigate the comparative effect of cooperative and competitive learning on EFL learners’ achievement of speech acts. As appropriate application of speech acts is of paramount importance in the second language development, the present experimental study was designed to see which method best helps the learners enhance their abilities in speech acts of apology and greeting. Based on the results of the proficiency test of PET, 55 female EFL learners at intermediate level whose scores fell within one standard deviation below and above the mean were selected and divided into two groups for the purpose of the study. Then a piloted researcher-made discourse completion test (DCT) comprised of 20 items was administered as the pretest. Following 10 weeks of treatment via employing cooperative and competitive methods, the posttest was administered. The outcome of the pre and post-test data analyses clarified that the participants in the cooperative group significantly outperformed those in the competitive group demonstrating that employing cooperative learning as a combination of classroom techniques could promote the second language speech act knowledge of the learners. Findings of the present study could be employed by second language teachers, materials developers, and ELT practitioners to help the EFL learners move towards cooperative learning.
CHAPTER I: Background and purpose1
1.1 Introduction2
1.2 Statement of problem9
1.3 Statement of Research11
1.4 Statement of the Research Hypothesis11
1.5 Definition of the Key Terms11
1.6 Significance of the Study12
1.7 Limitations and Delimitations13
CHAPTER II: Review of the Related Literature15
2.1. Introduction16
2.2. Speech Acts16
2.3. Core Assumptions and Statements18
2.4. Scope and Application19
2.5. The Performatives20
2.5.1. Explicit and Implicit Performatives22
2.6. Felicity Conditions24
2.7. The Locutionary, Illocutionary and Perlocutionary Acts28
2.7.1. Locutionary Acts29
2.7.2. Illocutionary Acts31
2.7.3. Perlocutionary Acts33
2.8. Cooperative Learning34
2.8.1. Social Interdependence Perspective37
2.8.2. Cognitive Development Perspectives38
2.8.3. Behavioral Social Perspectives38 Positive Interdependence39 Individual Accountability/Personal Responsibility40 Face-to-Face Promotive Interaction41 Teamwork Skills42 Group Processing 42
2.8.4. Structuring Cooperative Learning45
2.8.5. Interactions in Groups47
2.8.6. Students Perceptions of Cooperative Learning50
2.9. Competitive Learning52
CHAPTER III: Methodology57
3.1 Introduction58
3.2. Participants58
3.3. Instrumentation59
3.3.1 Preliminary English Test (PET)59
3.3.2 Discourse Completion Test60 Reliability and validity of the instrument63
3.4. Materials63
3.5. Procedure63
3.5.1. Pretest 63
3.5.2. Treatment64
3.5.3. Posttest66
3.6. Design67
3.7. Statistical Analyses67
CHAPTER IV: Results and Discussions68
4.1 Pilot study of Preliminary English Test (PET)69
4.2. Subject-Selection Statistics70
4.3 Pilot study of MCDCT 70
4.4. Proficiency Test (PET)71
4.5. Pretest of Speech acts73
4.6 Post test of speech acts73
4.7 Testing Assumptions74
4.8. Empirical Validity76
4.9. Reliability Indices77
4.10 Reliability of the Writing Tasks in the PET test77
4.11. Discussion79
CHAPTER V: Conclusion and Pedagogical Implications83
5.1 Restatement of the Problem84
5.2 Conclusion86
5.3 Pedagogical Implications87
5.4. Suggestions for Further Research88
Table 4.1 Descriptive statistics of PET pilot study89
Table 4.2 Descriptive Statistics of subject selection70
Table 4.3 descriptive statistics of pilot study of MCDCT pre/post test 70
Table 4.4 Descriptive statistics of PET by groups71
Table 4.5 Independent samples t-test of PET scores72
Table 4.6 Descriptive statistics of speech acts posttest by groups73
Table 4.7 normality tests74
Table 4.8 Independent samples t-test of Posttest scores75
Table 4.9 Pearson Correlation PET with Pretest and Posttest of Speech Acts76
Table 4.10 K-R21 Reliability77
Table 4.11Inter-Rater Reliability of the Writing Pretest 78
Table 4.12 Intra-Rater Reliability of the Writing Pretest78
1.1. Introduction
It is generally recognized that the goal of language teaching is to develop learner’s ability to communicate appropriately in a given target language and culture. This means that it is not enough for teaching practices to exclusively focus on the features of the target language linguistic system. Otherwise, inappropriate use of language can lead to pragmatic failure and those speakers who do not use pragmatically appropriate language run the risk of appearing uncooperative at very least or more seriously, rude or uncultured (Bardovi-Harlig, Hartford, Mahan-Taylor, Morgam, & Reynols, 1991).
Pragmatic ability in a second or foreign language is part of a nonnative speaker’s (NNS) communicative competence and therefore has to be located in a model of communicative ability (Savignon, 1991). In Bachman’s model (1990, p. 87ff), ‘language competence’ is subdivided into two components, ‘organizational competence’ and ‘pragmatic competence’. Organizational competence comprises knowledge of linguistic units and the rules of joining them together at the levels of sentence (‘grammatical competence’) and discourse (‘textual competence’). Pragmatic competence subdivides into ‘illocutionary competence’ and ‘sociolinguistic competence’. ‘Illocutionary competence’ can be glossed as ‘knowledge of communicative action and how to carry it out’. The term ‘communicative action’ is often more accurate than the more familiar term ‘speech act’ because communicative action is neutral between the spoken and written mode, and the term acknowledges the fact that communicative action can also be implemented by silence or non-verbally. ‘Sociolinguistic competence’ comprises the ability to use language appropriately according to context. It thus includes the ability to select communicative acts and appropriate strategies to implement them depending on the current status of the ‘conversational contract’ (Fraser, 1990).
Obviously, in EFL settings, one of the most dominant reasons is the learners’ transfer of speech act strategies from their native language (Ellis, 1994).
In recent years, with the unremitting development of Speech Act Theory, it has gradually emerged as an important topic and has been considered as a basic theory in pragmatics. A speech act as an action performed by means of language is an important element of communicative competence and the Speech Act Theory not only conveys the linguistic rules people share to create the acts, but also leads language learners to use this language tactfully or appropriately. It is believed that to learn a language is indeed to learn how to communicate in that language. However, evidence shows that many learners of English fail to achieve the tactful or appropriate use of English in their daily communication with native speakers. Thereby, researchers suggest that applying Speech Act Theory in language teaching has become increasingly imperative (Green, 2010).
One of instructional techniques the language teachers can use to increase learner’s achievement of speech acts is cooperative learning (Wright, 2010). Cooperative learning is an instructional technique that enables students to work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning (Ellis, 2008). Now cooperative learning is applied in almost all school content areas and increasingly, in college and university contexts all over the world and is claimed to be an effective teaching method in foreign/second language education by many scholars (Kessler, 1992, as cited in Brown, 2007).
Ochs and Schieffelin (2011) argue that a central tenet of second language development research is that learners’ participation in communicative practices are promoted but not totally determined by course books, teachers, or even the built environment. A very crucial factor to consider in the process of second language development, especially when it comes to the effective communication, is the presence of socially and culturally informed persons, peers, and the like. Within a cooperative atmosphere and based on the perspective which mainly stresses cooperation, not competition, learning will be promoted. This, of course could find enough supports in the constructivism literature (Jaramillo, 1996; Lantolf & Thorne, 2006; Mitchell & Myles, 2004; Van Lier, 2004; Vygotsky, 1986; Young, 1993), and is technically named scaffolding.
“Within the body of cooperative learning, scaffolding plays a crucial role. Particularly in the early stages of learning, an instructor might invite student participation in the task at hand. “This practice engages the student in learning and provides her/ him with ownership of the learning experience” (Hogan and Pressley, 1997, p. 76). “For example, a teacher might write the decimal point on the chalkboard and then ask a student to identify the next step in converting a fraction to a decimal. The student might be invited to participate verbally or she might be asked to come to the chalkboard and contribute her ideas or strategies in writing. Rather than asking a student for direct participation, an instructor might scaffold learning by asking students to contribute clues or ideas” (Hogan and Pressley, 1997, p. 91).
According to Van Lire (2004), there are many benefits of cooperative learning, and it should have its place in the classroom for several reasons. Humans are social beings that learn extremely well through interaction. While using methods of cooperative learning, students will develop a sense of community and commitment. This method of learning also supports positive peer teaching and learning which is beneficial as well.
Cooperative learning can also be focused on from the perspective of motivation: Motivational perspectives on cooperative learning focus primarily on the reward or goal structures under which students operate (Slavin, 1995). From this perspective, cooperative incentive structures create a situation in which the only way group members can attain their own personal goals is if the group is successful. Therefore, to meet their personal goals, group members must both help their group-mates to do whatever helps the group to succeed and, perhaps even more importantly, to encourage their group-mates to exert maximum efforts. In other words, rewarding groups based on group performance (or the sum of individual performances) creates an interpersonal reward structure, in which group members will give or withhold social reinforces (e.g., praise, encouragement) in response to group-mates’ task-related efforts (Slavin,1983).
Cooperative learning can create a situational perspective for the second language learners named “the social cohesion perspective” (Cohen, 1994), which is an emphasis on teambuilding activities in preparation for cooperative learning and processing or group self-evaluation during and after group activities.
It is generally asserted that cooperative learning is a highly appropriate option for all students because it emphasizes active interaction among individuals of diverse abilities and background (Yule, 1996) and demonstrates more positive student outcomes in academic achievement, social behavior and effective development.
One of instructional techniques language teachers can use to increase learner’s achievement of speech acts is competitive learning, and according to Johnson, Johnson, and Stanne (2000), competitive learning is that kind of learning in which the students have got to work against each other for the purpose on achieving a good grade. So one student should achieve the goal and another one is bound to fail. Thus the competitive learning can be interpersonal of inter-group. Competitive learning is of great value if the students want to view the material they have learned.
Competitive learning exists when one student goal is achieved but all other students fail to reach that goal (Johnson & Johnson, 1991). Competitive learning can be interpersonal (between individuals), or intergroup (between groups), where a group setting is appropriate. This strategy has been described as the most appropriate when students need to review learned materials (Griffiths & Podirsky, 2002). However, there have been many criticisms of this type of learning, including promoting high anxiety levels, self-doubt, selfishness, and aggression. It may also promote cheating and interfere with learners’ capacity to problem-solveing (Johnson & Johnson, 1991). Competitive interaction strategy could be used in the studies where students work in subgroups. This way Members of each subgroup work strictly on his/her own, strive to be the best in the subgroup for price or reward.
Literature evidence concerning the relative effectiveness of and practical preferences of pundits among these teaching techniques have been varied and mixed. In a study carried out by Dowell (1975, cited in Pneuman, 2009) on the effectiveness of a competitive and cooperative on the comprehension of a cognitive task, he stated that the students in the cooperative learning environment performed better than they did in a competitive environment. Alebiosu (1998) was of the view that students exposed to cooperative learning strategies performed significantly better in all the skills than their counterparts exposed to competitive or individualistic learning strategies. Johnson and Johnson (1991) contended that achievement outcomes were actually more accepted in competitive settings for high self-concept children than in the cooperative settings. Esan (1999, as cited in Pneuman, 2009) was of the view that individualistic setting showed a positive attitude towards mathematics than both cooperative and competitive setting. Okebukola and Ogunniyi (1984) presented that the cooperative arrangement was better for promoting achievement while the competitive arrangement was better for practical skills. Ojo and Egbon (2005) were of the view that the cooperative learning environment was found to be more conducive to learning than the competitive setting. Okediji, Anene, and Afolabi (2006) found that cooperative learning strategy groups performed significantly better than their non-cooperative counterparts, but found no significant difference in performance between competitive and noncompetitive learning strategy groups. There was also no significant interaction effect of cooperation and competition.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
According to Hudson, Detmer, and Brown (1995), speech act categories are cultural concepts, and they vary from one society to another. For instance, there is considerable variation in address form use, across languages, across national boundaries, across social groups within the same country from one individual to the next, and even in the behavior of the same person. Therefore, it is not enough for foreign language learners only to know the language, but it is important for them to be able to communicate correctly and effectively, foreign language learners need to understand what the purpose of speech act is and how to achieve the purpose through linguistic forms. In this respect, still it seems that most English learners have difficulty in comprehension and recognition of speech acts.
Even at the advance level, normally learners are familiar with only a formal style which is widely used in academic contexts; they also seem to feel that they are incomplete in interpreting the native speaker’s intentions and that their own pragmatic intentions may not be fully appreciated, this pragmatic failure can especially be traced in the areas of speech acts. Facilitating the development of pragmatic competence with respect to a particular speech act or function necessarily entail both description of the use of speech acts and approach for developing pragmatic competence. Language learners must be exposed to language samples which appropriately observe social, cultural and discoursal conventions. Speakers who do not use pragmatically appropriate language run the risk of appearing uncooperative at least, or more seriously rude or insulting.
Another concept which should be focused on is the role of learners’ awareness in developing second language pragmatic competence in general, and second language speech act knowledge in particular: Based on Kasper (1997), through awareness-raising activities, students acquire sociopragmatic and pragmalinguistic information; for instance, what function complimenting has in mainstream American culture, what appropriate topics for complimenting are, and by what linguistic formulae compliments are given and received. Students can observe particular pragmatic features in various sources of oral or written ‘data’, ranging from native speaker ‘classroom guests’ (Bardovi-Harlig, et al., 1999) to videos of authentic interaction, feature films (Rose, 2000), and other fictional and non-fictional written and audiovisual sources.
Consequently, the researcher chose cooperative and competitive language learning as two areas of research, theory and practice in education which may be two ways by which the speech acts could be achieved by language learners. In this study these two instructions and their effects on achievement of the speech act were compared to see which one is more effective.
1.3 Statement of Research Question
The present study was intended to explore the comparative effect of cooperative and competitive learning on EFL learners’ achievement of speech acts; therefore the following research question was raised:
RQ: Is there any significant difference between the effect of cooperative and competitive learning on EFL learners’ achievement of speech acts?
1.4 Statement of the Research Hypothesis
Based on the research question raised above, the following null hypothesis was formulated:
H0: There is no significant difference between the effect of cooperative and competitive learning on EFL learners’ achievement of speech acts.
1.5 Definition of the Key Terms
Speech act: “Speech acts refer to each of the stretches of language that are carrying the force of requesting, greeting, and instructing and so on, seen as performing a particular act. When we say that a particular bit of speech or writing is for example, an apology, we are concentrating on what that piece of language is doing, or how the listener or reader is supposed to react; such entities are called speech acts” (Wolfson, 1989, p.9).
In the present study achievement of speech acts was operationally defined as the scores of the participants on a teacher-made discourse completion test (DCT).
Cooperative learning: cooperative learning is “an approach to teaching and learning in which classrooms are organized so that students work together in small cooperative teams” (Richards & Schmidt, 2002, p.124).
Competitive learning: “competitive learning exists when one student’s goal is achieved and all other students fail to reach that goal; it can be interpersonal (between individuals) where each individual is important or intergroup (between groups) where group setting is appropriate” (Johnson & Johnson, 1991, P.182)
1.6 Significance of the Study
The present research was an attempt to investigate the effect of two procedures (cooperative and competitive learning) on EFL learners’ achievement of speech acts. The findings of this study would probably help EFL teachers adopt a suitable strategy or procedure which would lead to better achievement of learners in regards with speech acts.
The researcher also expected to come up with some of the following implications for language teaching:
Improving EFL learner’s language proficiency, improving the students’ ability to communicate, and familiarizing the EFL learners with formal speech acts used in different situation in order to enable them to effectively communicate with native speakers.
1.7 Limitations and Delimitations

Due to the nature of the research, especially in the field of education, the present study encountered a number of limitations which could pose inevitable restrictions on the interpretation and generalization of its findings. The following are the limitations of the present study:
1. The rules and restrictions which existed in some language institutes did not allow the researcher – herself being a female– to have male learners in her class as well as female learners. Hence the results of this research cannot be necessarily generalized to male EFL learners.
2. , The students who took part in the study were between 12-18 years old so the results of this research cannot be generalized to other age groups.

On the other hand, some delimitations were imposed by the researcher to narrow down the scope of the study which are as follows:
1. The researcher deliberately selected intermediate level learners as the participants of this research because elementary learners were not much familiar with the speech acts and did not have much ability to communicate, while advanced learners were perhaps already proficient enough not to be hugely impacted by the teaching variables discussed in this study.
2. Since only two speech acts, namely apology and greeting terms, were used in the present study, naturally the results had a limited implication and could not be generalized to all types of speech acts.
2.1. Introduction
Language as an indivisible part of daily lives is the primary tool implemented to transmit messages, to communicate ideas, thoughts and opinions. It posits us in the society we live in, it is a social affair which creates and further determines our position in all kinds of different social networks and institutions.
It happens that in some conditions, we are literally contingent on language’s applicable and appropriate usage and there are also moments when we require to be understood quite accurately, without any fault or error. It is actually pertained into almost all human activity fields and probably that is the reason why language and linguistic communication have become a widely discussed topic among linguists, lawyers, psychologists and philosophers.
2.2. Speech Acts
People always do not just produce utterances which involve grammatical structures and words, but also they try to carry out actions along with those utterances, in a seek to convey meanings. In this case, John Austin (1962) at first presented Speech Act Theory and the person who further elaborated it from the key and rudimentary principle that language is used to carry out actions was John Searle (1968). Afterwards, Speech Act Theory has become influential not only within philosophy, but also in linguistics, literary theory, psychology and many other scholarly disciplines (Green, 2010). Austin (1962) introduced a novel picture of examining meaning; meaning is described in a relation among linguistic conventions correlated with words/sentences, the situation where the speaker actually says some-thing to the hearer, and associated intentions of the speaker. The idea that meaning subsists among such relations is shown with success by the concept of acts: in uttering a sentence, that is, in applying linguistic conventions, the speaker with an associated intention performs a linguistic act to the hearer. Speech acts play a crucial role in effective communication and thus are essential constituents of sociolinguistic competence to be mastered.
Speech Act Theory, with a world-shattering contribution to interpersonal communication, enhances many scholars to examine and analyze the ways in which people make use of language to come through the social interaction (Bowe & Martin, 2007; Gass & Neu, 1995; Thomas, 2006; Vanderveken, 2009).
Wittgenstein and Austin laid the foundations for Speech act theory. John Searle is most often associated with the theory. Ludwig Wittgenstein initiated a line of thought called ‘ordinary language philosophy. He believed that the meaning of language is closely related to its actual use. Language, as people use it in everyday life, is a language game since it is comprised of rules. That is to say, people pursue rules to do things with the language.
2.3. Core Assumptions and Statements
As reported by Searle (1976), to apprehend language one must realize the speaker’s intention. After all, language is a deliberate and intentional behavior; it must be handled by like a form of action. Therefore Searle points to statements as speech acts. The speech act is the chief and central unit of language applied to express meaning, an utterance which expresses an intention. Commonly, the speech act is a sentence, still it can be a word or phrase as long as it follows the rules compulsory to achieve the intention. When one speaks, one performs an act. Speech is not only used to denominate something, as a matter of fact, it does something. Speech act emphasizes the purpose of the act altogether. In agreement with Searle, appreciating the speaker’s intention is crucial to capture the meaning. Without the speaker’s intention, it is not possible to understand the words as a speech act. There are four kinds of speech act: utterance acts, propositional acts (referring is a type of propositional act), illocutionary acts (promises, questions and commands) and perlocutionary acts. A perlocutionary act can be adopted to bring forth some behavioral response from the listener. Searle admits that speakers accomplish acts by noticing two rules: constitutive rules or definition rules (create or define new forms of behavior) and regulative or behavior rules (these rules govern types of behavior that already exist).

2.4. Scope and Application
Speech act theory has contributed to the rules outlook in communication since it supplies ground for observing what takes place when speakers use various definition and behavior rules. By the means of examining the rules adopted by each speaker, researchers can better understand the reason why conversational misunderstandings have taken place.
Just as an American language philosopher J.R. Searle mentioned, speaking a language is performing speech acts, acts such as making statements, giving commands, asking questions or making promises. Searle posits that all linguistic communication includes linguistic acts. That is to say, speech acts are the rudimentary or minimal units of linguistic communication (1976, 16). They are not just artificial linguistic constructs, their understanding along with the acquaintance of context in which they are performed are frequently important for decoding the whole utterance and its appropriate meaning. The speech acts are applied in standard quotidian exchanges along with jokes or drama for instance.
The problem of speech acts was established by another American language philosopher J.L. Austin (1962). His observations were delivered at Harvard University in 1955 as the William James Lectures which were posthumously published in his famous book How to Do Things with Words. It is Austin who presents elementary terms and areas to study and tells the difference between locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts. As Lyons mentions: Austin’s outstanding aim was to challenge the view that the mere philosophically (and also linguistically) appealing function of language was making true or false statements (as cited in Lyons, 1981). Austin affirms that there are assuredly more functions language can practice. The theory of speech acts hence comes to being and Austin’s research becomes a keystone for his followers.
2.5. The Performatives
It is Austin who presents fundamental terms and areas to study and he offers a current category of utterances – the performatives.
Performatives, within the theory of speech acts, are historically the first speech acts to be analyzed. Austin (1962) characterizes a performative as an utterance that includes a particular kind of verb (a performative verb) by the power of which it performs an action. By way of explanation, in applying a performative, a person is not only uttering something but as a matter of fact is doing something (as cited in Wardhaugh, 1992). Austin further explains that a performative, contrary to a constative, cannot be true or false (it can just be felicitous or infelicitous) also it does not describe, report or constant anything. Austin asserts that grammatically, a performative is a first person indicative active sentence in the simple present tense. This criterion is cryptic after all and that is the reason why, in considerations of distinguishing the performative use from other likely uses of first person indicative active pattern, Austin comes out with a hereby test for he identifies that performative verbs exclusively can collocate with this adverb.
1. a. I hereby resign from the post of the President of the Czech Republic.
b. I hereby get up at seven o’clock in the morning every day.
While uttering the second sentence would be rather strange, the first one would make sense under particular conditions. So it can be concluded that (a) is a performative, while (b) is not.
So Austin distinguishes two groups of explicit and implicit performatives, while drawing a chief distinction between them.
2.5.1. Explicit and Implicit Performatives
An explicit performative is one in which the utterance message includes an expression which causes explicit what kind of act is being performed (Lyons, 1981, p. 175). An explicit performative contains a performative verb and thus chiefly, as Thomas (1995, p. 47) posits, can be considered to be a mechanism that permits the speaker to cut out any potential of getting the wrong idea and misunderstanding the force behind an utterance.
2. a. I order you to leave.
b. Will you leave?
In the first example, the speaker declares a sentence with an imperative proposition and the goal is making the hearer leave the place. The speaker uses a performative verb and therefore entirely prevents any feasible misunderstanding. The message is fairly clear here.
The second sentence (2b) is somehow ambiguous when it is not placed in an appropriate context. It can be understood in two ways: a yes/no question (as taken literally), or as an indirect request or even command to leave (non-literally). The addressee can become confused and he may not be able to always decode the speaker’s intention favorably. This utterance is called an implicit or primary performative. According to the above definition and Lyon’s assumption, this utterance is considered as non-explicit, since there is no expression in the meaning itself to make explicit the fact that this is to be taken as a request rather than a yes/no question (Lyons, 1981,p. 176).
The explicit and implicit versions of utterance are not the same. Stating a command in the explicit performative version has much greater serious effect than the implicit version utterance (Yule, 1996: 52). Thomas adds that people as a result often prevent using an explicit performative since in many conditions it seems to indicate a diverse power relationship or specific set of rights on the part of the speaker (1995, p. 48). This can be clearly seen in the following examples:
3. a. Speak. Who began this? On thy love, I charge thee. (Othello, 2.3.177)
b. I dub thee knight.
In (3a) Othello says to his ensign Iago and questions him who begins a current fight. Othello approaches Iago from strength and power position and hence he applies the explicit performative ‘I charge thee’. Iago comprehends what is being communicated and cautiously clarifies that he does not know who had initiated it.
The situation is completely different in (3b). Here it is rather the specific set of rights on speaker’s part that enable him to use an explicit performative. Dubbing was the ceremony whereby the candidate’s initiation into knighthood was completed. Only the king or any entitled seigneur could accomplish it, who should strike the candidate first upon the left shoulder, next upon the right shoulder and finally upon the top of the head, three times with the flax of the blade, while saying I dub thee once.. I dub thee twice…I dub thee Knight.
When the knight gained spurs and a belt as indications of chivalry, the ceremony was completed. Levinson (1983, p. 230) affirms that ‘performative sentences achieve their corresponding actions because there are specific conventions linking the words to institutional procedures’. The institutional procedures are not always equivalent, they are distinct significantly in various historical periods and cultures. Austin declares that it is significant for the procedure and the performative to be attained in proper circumstances so that to be successful.
Shiffrin, explaining Austin’s observations, mentions that:
“The circumstances allowing an act are varied: they include the existence of ‘an accepted conventional procedure having a certain conventional effect’, the presence of ‘particular persons and circumstances’, ‘the correct and complete execution of a procedure’, and (when appropriate to the act) ‘certain thoughts, feelings, or intentions’.” (1994, p. 51), These circumstances are more often called felicity conditions.
2.6. Felicity Conditions
Austin proposes the term of felicity conditions and defines the conditions as follows (Austin, 1962, p. 14-15):
A. There must be an acknowledged conventional and common procedure having a specific conventional effect, that procedure to maintain the uttering of fixed words by definite persons in certain circumstances.
B. The exact situations and persons in a given case must be suitable for the claim and call of the specific procedure invoked.
C. The procedure has to be accomplished by entire participants both correctly and completely.
D. Where the procedure is planned for use by persons having certain thoughts or feelings, or as the basis of fixed and specific posterior and subsequent conduct on the part of any participant, then a person participating in and so invoking the procedure should aim so to conduct themselves, and besides should in fact so conduct themselves afterwards.
Linguistic literature dealing with the speech act theory usually concerns with Austin’s example of marriage in relation to felicity conditions. Thomas for example approximately explains the institution of marriage and posits that in western societies “his conventional procedure involves a man and a woman, who are not debarred from marrying for any reason, presenting themselves before an authorized person (minister of religion or registrar), in an authorized place (place of worship or registry place), at an approved time (certain days or times are excluded) accompanied by a minimum of two witnesses. They must go through a specified form of marriage: the marriage is not legal unless certain declarations are made and unless certain words have been spoken” (Thomas, 1995, p. 38). Just then are all the felicity conditions met and the act is believed to be accurate and valid.
Despite the fact that, this process is usually not worldwide; the customs differ all through countries and cultures. For instance in Islamic countries, the marriage ceremony is significantly discrepant. The bride needs a male relative (wali) to show her in concluding the marital contract since without his companionship the marriage wouldn’t be valid and it would be illegal. It should be added that the declarations and words spoken are culture specific as well and hence varies from the ones common in Europe.
For all that, there must be a precise common procedure with proper circumstances and persons included, it should be applied perfectly, accurately and completely, the persons should have crucial thoughts, emotions and intentions and if the following conduct is specific, eventually the appropriate parties must do it (Thomas, 1995, p. 37). Mainly, just with these felicity conditions met the act is completely valid.
The title of felicity conditions is still in use and it is not confined merely to performatives anymore. According to Yule (1996, p. 50), felicity conditions compensate for anticipated or suitable circumstances for the performance of a speech act to be identified as intended. Afterwards he suggests additional categorization of felicity conditions into five types: general conditions, content conditions, preparatory conditions, sincerity conditions and essential conditions, while he was working on basic Searle’s assumptions. In accordance with Yule (1996), general conditions presume the participants’ knowledge of the language being used and his non-playacting, content conditions relate to the appropriate content of an utterance, preparatory conditions count with discrepancies of different illocutionary acts, sincerity conditions deal with speaker’s intention to accomplish a specific act and essential conditions ‘combine with a specification of what must be in the utterance content, the context, and the speaker’s intentions, in order for a specific act to be appropriately (felicitously) performed’.
As related to felicity conditions, Austin (1962) afterwards appreciates the classification of performatives and constatives is not adequate and therefore, in an attempt to displace it by a general theory of speech acts, he ‘isolates three basic senses in which in saying something one is doing something, and hence three kinds of acts that are simultaneously performed’ (in Levinson, p. 236): the locutionary, illocutioanary and perlocutionary acts.
2.7. The Locutionary, Illocutionary and Perlocutionary Acts
The locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts are, as a matter of fact, three main constituents with the aid of which a speech act is brought about. Leech (Leech, 1983, p. 199) conciesly defines them like this:
locutionary act: performing an act of saying something
illocutionary act: performing an act in saying something
perlocutionary act: performing an act by saying something
The locutionary act can be seen as an absolute uttering of words in particular language, as long as the illocutionary and perlocutionary acts carry a more sophisticated message for the hearer. The speaker’s intentions behind the locution and a perlocutionary act discloses the result and effect the speaker needs to exercise over the hearer, are communicated through an illocutionary act.
The individual elements cannot be detached without difficulty. Bach and Harnish explain that they are closely related in a large measure (Bach & Harnish, 1979, p. 3). Although, as for a more clear and better understanding of their function in a speech act, they are going to be treated individually in this chapter.
2.7.1. Locutionary Acts
The least ambiguous constitute of the speech act is apparently loutionary acts. (Bach and Harnish 1979, p. 19) comment on Austin’s work, and find out that he differentiates between three different aspects of the locutionary act. Austin (1962, p.76) points out that uttering any sentence is:
A. Consistently performing the act of uttering particular noises (a phonetic act)
B. Consistently performing the act of uttering particular vocables or words ( a phatic act)
C. Almost always to perform the act of applying that sentence or its components with a specific more or less exact ‘sense’ and a more or less exact ‘reference’ ,that both are the same as ‘meaning’ (rhetic act).
It can be concluded that the locutionary act consists of three “subacts” which are phonetic, phatic and rhetic. The idea of locutionary act approximately and this same distinction were frequently disapproved and criticized by the followers of Austin. Searle even entirely rejects Austin’s division and suggests his own alternatively (Searle, 1968, p. 405). Searle (1976, p. 412) advises that rhetic act proposed by Austin is nothing else except a reformulated explanation of the illocutionary act and he as a result proposes another term, the commonly named propositional act that signifies the proposition (a neutral phrase with no illocutionary force). That is to say, a proposition is the essence of the utterance.
Wardhaugh suggests this clarification. Propositional acts are those constituents related to reference and prediction: we apply language to point to matters in the world and to make predictions about such those matters (Wardhaugh, 1992, p. 285). Propositional acts cannot take place individually, as far as the speech act would not be accomplished. The proposition is therefore meant in the performance of an illocutionary act. What is crucial to be mentioned here is that not all illocutionary acts should certainly have a proposition (e.g. ‘Ouch!’

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