The Model Verbs As Speech Act English Language Essay

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Speech is a power in itself. The most significant thing in the speech is the message that the speaker wants to convey. When the hearer understands the function of the message he will responds or behaves positively. Language and politics are fully related, language is a tool by which the politicians can command, request, persuade and declare…etc. This paper is concerned with speech act of request in the speech of Barak Obama president of the USA, Remarks by the President at the U.S./China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, delivered at the Ronald Reagan Building and International trade Center Washington, Dec in July 27, 2009. The specified speech is available at In this study the Searle's speech act theory will be adopted to analyze speech act which occurred in the speech, model verbs "Can", "Will", and "Must" will be selected to analyze as a tool used by the speaker to realize the speech act of request. This paper achieved the following conclusions: a. speech act of request is the most frequent prevailing in the political nominated speech; b. the speech acts of request are mostly happened in an indirect way.

Keywords: Model verbs, political speech, speech act theory, request.

1. Introduction

Language is a means of communication, it is a social phenomenon by which we can interchange in different ways, feeling, persuading, advising, warning, teaching and so on. When we intend to speak or write we formulate what we say to be fit the context or situation, this means that what we say is not exactly what we intend to convey, the meaning beyond the words or sentences is sometime different from the form of words .

Discourse is a language in action, and this discipline requires an attention to language and to the action (Hanks 1996 as cited in Blommaert,2005,p.2),by other words discourse is a language plus context, the context that that speakers bring with them when they are use the language, this context includes people experiences, assumptions and expectations, the context that we negotiate or construct our aims through the social interactions in the real life .Furthermore, people are motivate to accomplish some things when they speak or write, therefore, discourse is a social action (Woods 2006,p.x). Discourse deals with units of language bigger than the sentence, by other means, the discourse is sentences collected to form a big text.

Language and politics are extremely interrelated and intermingled. Due the significance of language in politics, politicians tend to use special forms of language to give their discourse charm and influence which enable them to send different messages to different people of different orientations and levels at one time and within one piece of discourse, to achieve this functions they use language in a subtle, manipulative and convincing way. Accordingly, they coat their discourse with many characteristic features to serve its multidirectional and multi-functionality simultaneously. Because of the great significance of politics in everyday life, political discourse has obtained its stature and value.

Pragmatics is the study of the language in use, or the study of the speaker meaning. Pragmatics defined as the relation of sign to their users and interpreters .Pragmatics is" how language is used in communication" (Leech, 1983, p.1). Linguists and philosophers called the production of utterances as acts. These acts also play a role in revealing the main character of the speaker adding a stylistic impact on the content involved in political texts. Syntactically, political texts are realized by the utilization of the different syntactic structures (imperative, interrogative, and declarative) to express the different classes of speech acts. Pragmatically, the meaning of political texts reflects the context of the situation, and expresses the metaphorical meaning rather than literal meaning.

Model verbs operate like other aspects of language, they can be analyzed from the pragmatic perspective, they are used to indicate different meaning or acts like request, obligation, order, permission, etc. Model verbs in English regarded as small class of auxiliary verbs .They distinguishes from other verbs in that they have not participle or infinitive forms. The model verbs characterized by some feature like: they don't have (e) s in the third person singular, they are not used as infinitives or participles, they function like auxiliary verbs do, and they can undergo the subject auxiliary version.

The model verb "Can" is used with declarative and interrogative sentences; this model verb can express ability, possibility, and permission. The second model verb is "Will", this model mostly talking about the future, the most frequent choice is used to make requests, promises...etc. This model also emerges with the interrogative and declarative sentences, but when it lies with declarative it emerge with future sake (Thornburg, 2004, p. 30-1,192-3). The third one of model verb which will also be tackled in this study is "Must", it express obligation and necessity, it is also can express a confident and assumption; it can be located in declarative and interrogative sentences.

The three model verb "Can", "Will "and "Must" are used to be a politeness request in which the declarative, interrogative sentences which the three model verbs located in, will emerge as a tool to create a illocutionary force, the speaker use it politely especially when the speaker is talking about someone how know obviously what the speaker talk about (Azar &Hagen, P. 158).

2. Literature Review

2.1What is discourse analysis?

The term discourse analysis etymologically comes from Greek Verbanaluein 'to deconstruct' and from Latin verb discurrere 'to run back and forth'. In recent decades the term of discourse analysis has penetrated many disciplines involving, sociology history, cultural studies, philosophy, literary studies, psychology and anthropology. Discourse analysis in all these disciplines has a distinct meaning inclusive a social science methodology, a sub discipline of linguistics, critical paradigm and so far (Krzyzanowski & Wodak, 2008, p. 5).

Discourse analysis is the examination of language use by members of a speech community. Discourse analysis aims to study language in the contexts. Discourse analysis concerned with written texts and spoken language, in different figures of speech from conversation to highly forms of talk (McCarthy, 2000, p.5).

The philosophers Austin(1962),Searle(1969) and Grice(1975) were interested with language in relation to social action, as appeared in speech act theory and cooperative principle, beside the emergence of pragmatics discipline which concerned with the study of meaning in context (Levinson 1984,Leech 1983 as cited in McCarthy,2000),discourse analysis has overripe into a different disciplines which finds the important of the context and cultural influences on the meaning of language in use, such recent disciplines are applied linguistics, second language acquisition and language teaching(Ibid,p.7).

Discourse analysis involves looking at both language form and language functions and includes the study of both spoken interaction and written texts. It identifies linguistic features that characterize different genres as well as social and cultural factors that aid in our interpretation and understanding of different texts and types of talk. The study of discourse has developed in a variety of firlds, sociolinguistics, anthropology, sociology, and social psychology. Thus discourse analysis takes different theoretical perspectives and analytic approaches: speech act theory, interactional sociolinguistics, ethnography of communication, pragmatics, conversation analysis, and variation analysis (Schiffrin, 1994 as cited in Darwish,2011).Although each approach emphasizes different aspects of language use, they all view language as social interaction.

There are many different types of discourse analysis such as, conversation analysis, discursive psychology, and critical discourse analysis. (Ibid, p. 7) . Discourse analysis is not only interests with the analysis of spoken conversation but also it concerns with hundreds of written and printed words, such as newspaper articles, stories, notice, comics, letters, recipes, and so on (McCarthy,2000,p.10).

The analysis of discourse means the analysis of language in use, in this sense the analysis is concerns not with formal linguistic aspect of language (transaction) but with function of language involved the social relations and personal attitudes (Yule & Brown, 2000, p.1).

Discourse analysis in communication activities is not just required grammar but rather a far wider string of language knowledge, the social context, the relation between interactions, produced of pragmatic functions in discourse, as well as the ability of interlocutors (addressee/addressor) of assigning aspects of context to discourse used in order to negotiate the meaning successfully (Widdowson,2007,p.15).

There are many definitions of discourse analysis, although the discourse analysis has different meanings according to different fields or academic disciplines, but most of them stand about the meaning beyond the sentences, language use, and the range border of social practice (Schiffrin, as cited in darwish, 2001).

2.2 Political discourse

Since the 1980s political discourse has much attention within the academic centers, the attention to this discipline has come as a result from rising interest in connecting of social sciences to account for the overt implications of power, ideology and injustice where the language required a strong tool to cover this object. The idea that the discipline of discourse analysis started in the 1980s means its systematic emergence as a new discipline which deals with aspects of power, ideology…etc. (Chilton, 2004, p. ix-x, as cited in Darwish, 2001).

Political discourse is a result of politics and it is historically and culturally determined. It fulfills different functions due to different political activities. It is thematic because its topics are primarily related to politics such as political activities, political ideas and political relations.

Political discourse comes under different labels but with the same intent and content. It can be come under: political discourse, political rhetoric, political speech, and political language (Feldman & De Landtsheer, 1998, p.1). According to Schäffner (1997 as cited in Darwish,2011) political discourse can be seen from different theoretical standings, from one hand it can be seen as internal political communication which covers the kind of discourses with political content, on the other hand there is external political communication which covers political ideas, discussions…etc.

Schäffner (1997) also states that political discourse can also be looked from a different perspective which is based on functional or thematic criteria. On the one hand political discourses serve certain functions in different political events; and on the other they are fundamentally related to political topics such as political ideas, activities…etc.

Political discourse is the informal exchange of reasoned views as to which of several alternative courses of action should be taken to solve a social problem. It is a science that has been used through the history of the United States. It is the essence of democracy. Full of problems and persuasion, political discourse is used in many debates, candidacies and in our everyday life.

Political discourse analysis is a field of discourse which focuses on a discourse in political forums (such as debates, speeches, hearings, and interview) as the phenomenon of interest

2.3 Survey of speech act theory

In his work of monograph, How to Do Things with Words, the philosopher J. Austin (1962) was the first who attempted to classify speech act, speech act theory is actually based on the series of lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1955 under the title William James Lectures. Austin observed that there are some sentences designed to do something rather than to say others. For example, uttering a sentence like: I now pronounce you man and wife is directed to do something; namely wedding a couple. Austin calls this kind of sentences the performatives in contrast with the constatives which stand for descriptive ones and are, at least pretheoretically, oriented towards saying something rather than doing something, in this point Austin has pointed in his lectures that every utterance has both a descriptive and an effective aspects, which means that saying something is also doing something(Horn&Wood,2004,p.55).With respect to the distinction between constative and performative, Austin distinguished three kinds of acts instead of the above two, these three acts are: locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary. The locutionary act is what the speaker say with determinate sense and reference, and the illocutionary act is what the speaker doing in the speech, by other means what the speaker intends to convey by his utterance such as, offer, promise, advice, warning…etc. While the perlocutionary act is refers to the results on the audience from that saying such as persuading, misleading, and convincing (Levinson, 1983, p.263). Levinson also added that the illocutionary act is the central to the theory of speech act(as Austin interested),Austin argued that the illocutionary and locationary acts are detachable for the study of meaning may behave independently .What is important here is the illocutionary and perlocutionary, as Austin (1962) stated that the ideology of the perfomative and constative distinction stands to the ideology of locationary and illocationaryact acts since the former stands for the speaker's/ writer's intention in uttering something while the latter is the result or the effect of the speaker's utterance on the side of the hearer/reader. This example illustrates the relationship between the locationary and illucationay: There may be an air strike tomorrow ,in this sentence, we can feel a sense of warning that citizens must stay in their homes as an illocutionary act, and its perlocutionary effect might be an overwhelming fear among citizens. Austin did not put his theory in a more systematic way and thus came his student J. Searle (1969) who completed what Austin had already started. Instead of Austin's acts of il/per/locution being performed in an utterance, Searle argues that an utterance consists of two parts: "a proposition and a function indicating device which marks the illocutionary force" (Coulthard, 1985, p.18-21). These functions indicating devices can be: the mood of the verb, word order … etc, (as cited in Darwish, 2011).

In his classification of speech acts, Austin took the English illocutionary verbs (performative verbs) (Levinson, 1983), he (1962, p. 150) divided performative verbs into five categories: Verdictives, Exercitives, Commissives. Behabitives, and Expositives. The fifth categories are difficult to define as Austin stated, they clarify how the utterances fit into the case of conversation, and how we are using words for example: I reply, I argue, I concede, I illustrate, I assume.

Searle (1969) developed the theory of speech act as a theory of the constitutive rules for performing illocutionary acts, this means the rules that tell successfully what performing an illocutionary act consists in(as cited in Zhuanglin,2009). He considers Austin's classification as not being systematic and thus requires systemization. He argues that any taxonomy must be in accordance with certain criteria. According to Searle's speech act theory," whenever a speaker utters a sentence in an appropriate context with certain intentions, he performs one or more illocutionary acts" (Searle& Vandervken,1985,p.1 as cited in Isaa,2012),Searle puts three main criteria according to which speech acts are classified into five categories. These are: the illocutionary point, the direction of fit, and the sincerity condition. The first criterion is the illocutionary point which refers to the purpose of saying something. For example, the point of a