British Journal of English Linguistics (BJEL)

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Speech Acts.

The Performative Aspect of Spontaneous Prayers in Cameroon: A Study in Evasive Media in Interactions (Published)

Studies on prayers have focussed mainly on their vertical interactive dimension between the faithful and the deity. As a result, notably with spontaneous prayers, prayers have hardly been seen as a form of horizontal communication, or as ‘evasively’ having a communicative value with the faithful, who constitute their immediate audience. This study therefore considers the horizontal effect spontaneous prayers have on the audience that listens to, or overhears, them. Our analyses show that spontaneous prayers, which turn out to be a medium of communication in its own right, can facilitate complex conversational events as they can be used for self-endearment; for control of the behaviour of the audience; as a pre-emptive measure to ward off blame; as a mild way of being insolent; to dish out criticisms or disapprove of someone’s behaviour with little retort; to give praise and advice without sounding suspicious. Given that spontaneous prayers enable speakers to better communicate sensitive information, we classify them as a medium of tact and a diplomatic weapon that helps in repairing Face Threatening Acts (FTAs) in conversation.

Keywords: Cameroon English, Speech Acts., evasive media, religious register, spontaneous prayers

Pragmatic Forces of Speech Acts Used By Members of County Assembly during Debates In Bomet County, Kenya (Published)

Members of County Assembly of Bomet, Kenya, engage in debates over different motions proposed to aid in determining the best course of action regarding important matters affecting the County. However, the actions of the Members as they routinely discuss various motions on the floor of the County Assembly have received little scholarly attention. A knowledge of what participants do during the debating process and the pragmatic forces behind their utterances will provide insights into the nature of interaction at the County Assembly and at the same time show the state of affairs at the County. Therefore, this paper examines the pragmatic forces of speech acts used by Members of County Assembly of Bomet during debates at the County Assembly. The paper relied on Austin’s (1962) Speech Act Theory and the Five Categories of Speech Acts identified by Searle (2005), which include directives, expressives, commissives, declaratives, and assertives. The study also incorporated insights in the study of speech acts from Sotillo (2017). The paper purposefully sampled three motions from the Hansards recorded between the year 2013 and 2017. The data was downloaded from Bomet County Assembly’s website. Textual analysis was used to collect data. The data collected was analysed using descriptive statistics. The results showed that most pragmatic forces were manifested in assertives/representatives (for instance, informing, reporting, claiming, stating) accounting for 47.26%. This was followed by expressives (for example, thanking, apologizing, protesting, congratulating) at 23.63%, then directives (for example, requests, urge, ask, suggest, advise, direct) at 18.15%, declarations (declare, adjourn, christen, approve) at 7.19% and finally commissives (such as promise, vow, guarantee, refuse, assure) at 3.76%. This study contributes to existing knowledge on pragmatics and particularly the use of speech acts to explain the state of affairs in the society. The study therefore proposes that speech act analysis be adopted as an effective tool in the analysis of argumentative discourse.

Keywords: Debates, Hansards, Speech Acts., pragmatic forces, textual analysis

A Speech Act Analysis of Public Speeches of Three African Presidents Amid Covid-19 (Published)

Public speaking affords a leader an opportunity to address the people he is leading. Using the theoretical framework of Speech Acts, the researcher analyzes the speeches of three African Presidents namely: Muhammadu Buhari (of Nigeria), Akufo-Addo (of Ghana) and Cyril Ramaphosa (of South Africa). The speeches selected were delivered during the coronavirus pandemic. The result of the study showed that the three presidents used performative and constative acts to command, request, urge, appeal, direct and inform their people on the issue of covid-19, its damaging effects and the measures that would help to combat the disease.  It was discovered that some of the performative acts were carried out under essential and sincerity conditions.

Keywords: Speech Acts., coronavirus disease, performatives, public speech, sincerity conditions

Genderlect and Thanking (Published)

Thanking is one of the best ways to maintain harmony between people. As face is so fragile, thanking is of the effective ways to saves face of the interlocutors. This being said, thanking is an indispensable part of language. This study deals, not only with thanking as it is, it studies another topic and that is ‘gender’. Some studies showed that some linguistic items are used in different percentages among speakers when it comes to gender; say, females are more polite to some extent. Iraqi EFL learners are the sample of this study. This type of study, i.e. to know the differences between males and females concerning a specific area in linguistics is new and exciting. The aims of this study are the following:

  1. Finding out the strategies Iraqi EFL learners use concerning the speech act of thanking.
  2. Concluding whether female learners thank more than the males overall.

To fulfill these aims, it is hypothesized that:

  1. Iraqi EFL learners use the direct (or explicit) strategies to thank more than the indirect (or implicit) ones.
  2. Female learners use more thanking strategies than the male ones.

After presenting the literature, the researcher conducts a test to a random sample of Iraqi EFL fourth year students at the Department of English/ College of Education for Human Sciences.

University of Babylon (2016-2017) The results of the test are analysed as well. After applying the test to the sample, he researcher concluded that the students used the direct strategies to thank almost all the time and they even left some of the strategies (especially the indirect one) unused. This emphasized the first hypothesis of this study. As for gender; females used thanking strategies a bit less than the males and this conclusion rejects the second hypothesis of the study.

Keywords: EFL Learners’, Gender, Implicit, Speech Acts., Strategies., explicit, felicity conditions, thanking

An Analysis of the Illocutionary Act in Indonesia’s Meme Comics at Social Media and Its Advantages as Reading Materials For Senior High School (Published)

This study aims to describe the functions of the expressive illocutionary act found in the discourse of Indonesia’s meme comic; The use of illocutionary act in the discourse of Indonesia’s meme comics; And the advantages of Indonesia’s meme comic as a reading materials for students. The design of this research is qualitative research with descriptive and hermeneutical method. The data of this research are from the websites of Indonesia’s Meme Comics that is on The population of this research data is MCI discourses that were uploaded from 1 January 2017-28 February 2017 on as many as 306 memes. The sample is set at 20% of the total populations, which is 61 memes. The data collection technique used in this study is the technique of documentation and record-keeping techniques. The analyzing or processing of this research data is using qualitative analysis technique. The result of the research is that there are eight functions of expressive illocutionary act; they are the utterances of flattering, criticizing, blaming, complaining, and thanking. There are five utterance strategies in the meme discourse: speaking truth with bald on record, speaking truth with positive politeness, speaking truth with negative politeness, speaking vaguely, and speaking in the heart or silence. Some advantages of the memes discourse as the students’ reading materials are: it can be used as reading material for the materials of writing creativity, such as poster material, slogan, and anecdotal text. The positive values found in the meme discourse are it can increase the students’ interest in reading and encourage the students to think critically as well as the students can inspire and enhance the writing creativity.

Keywords: Expressive, Illocutionary, Meme Comic, Speech Acts.

A Pragmatic Study of Weather Forecasting Reports (Published)

Weather forecasting is an application for predicting the condition of the atmosphere for a given location; such predictions are based on scientific resources and measurements i.e. factual information. However, these predictions are still assumptions, or forecasting, and therefore changeable. Hence, weather forecasters use different strategies to control the certainty of these predictions and mitigate the accuracy of their forecasting. In spite of the importance of this genre and the type of language exploited in it, it has not received enough research work attention, particularly from a pragmatic point of view. This has prompted this study to carry out such a kind of research work in an attempt to shed light on the main pragmatic aspects utilized in weather forecasting reports. Precisely, the study attempts to answer the question: what are the pragmatic aspects that characterize weather forecasting reports? In other words, the current study aims at finding out the pragmatic aspects exploited by weather forecasters and how these aspects help them control the accuracy of their reports. In accordance with these aims, it is hypothesized that weather forecasting reports, though based on scientific measurements are still changeable assumptions about the future (i.e. predictions). This entails that   the forecasters use certain pragmatic techniques to avoid being committed to the accuracy of these predictions. In order to achieve the aims and verifying or rejecting the hypothesis, a model is developed for the analysis of data under scrutiny. Additionally, a statistical analysis is conducted via means of the percentage equation to quantitative support the findings of the pragmatic analysis.  The most important findings yielded by those analyses reveal that the main pragmatic aspects utilized in weather forecasting reports are speech acts, presupposition, scalar implicature and hedging, and that predictions are global speech acts in weather forecasting.

Keywords: Speech Acts., Weather forecasting reports, hedges, pragmatic aspects, presupposition, scalar implicature

Rhetorical Diplomacy: A Study of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari’s Speech To the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly- September, 2015 (Published)

Diplomatic texts-oral or written-are usually deemed to be of a high significance. The significance of a diplomatic texts is based on the fact that it comes from the personality of a Head of State (or government or his representative) who is a mouth piece of a country by virtue of the office he holds and his utterances are channeled to influence the official relationship of states. This genre, surprisingly, has been given relatively very little attention by scholars and linguists. This study entitled: “Rhetorical Diplomacy: A study of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari‘s speech to the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly”, is an analytical study of the pragmatic strategies of the President with the aim of determining their effectives in conveying the speakers intentions to his audience. The analysis, carried out in this study, was based on the theoretical backcloth of the Speech Act theory by Austin (1962) and Searle, (1969, 1999). Specifically, the study adopted Searle (1999)’s taxonomy of speech acts which gave primacy not to the types of speech acts, but to their illocutionary points /forces. As a result of this, the utterances were analysed as diplomatic actions taken by the President, in terms of their illocutionary points/ forces and the perlocutionary effects they have on his audience. Our basic findings show that the President made use of expressive, assertive, commissive, and directive speech acts to perform various direct and indirect interactive acts which were found to be diplomatically correct in foregrounding and communicating Nigeria’s challenges and polices to the global community. The data however, revealed no instance of the use of verdictive and declarative acts by the President. The paper concluded that the study of the deployment of speech acts as a strategy in political and diplomatic speeches, contributes to a better understanding of multilateral and bilateral communication and provides insights into presidential outputs in diplomatic meetings.

Keywords: Diplomacy, Speech Acts., rhetoric

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