Certainty and uncertainty in assertive speech acts

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We begin by considering three main philosophical accounts of assertion, showing that each emphasizes specific aspects of it while leaving others aside, and then proceed to offering a more comprehensive speech-act theoretic account of assertion, which owes much to Austin’s approach to illocutionary acts. On the basis of this account, we investigate how assertion and other members of the assertive speech act family serve the aim of communicating, not merely pieces of information, but also the speaker’s attitude of certainty or uncertainty about them. In so doing, we make use of examples from a corpus of texts in Italian and English, drawn from newspapers, scientific journals and web sites, concerning the so-called Stamina case.


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