Searle and Sinclair on communicative acts

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John Searle and John Sinclair have worked in very different academic traditions:analytic philosophy and empirical linguistics. Nevertheless, although theywork with very different methodological and theoretical assumptions, they bothtackle one of the deepest questions in the philosophy of language – the nature ofunits of meaning – and there are similarities in their models of communicativeacts – speech acts and extended lexical units. It is therefore productive to studyin how far the two approaches are complementary, and whether their differentstrengths can be combined. I will give brief examples of how Searle’s modelcould be strengthened by grounding it in empirical textual and ethnographicdata, and therefore – conversely – how Sinclair’s model could be strengthenedby giving it a social rationale.


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