Volume 76, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0019-0829
  • E-ISSN: 1783-1490
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This paper examines samples of spoken data with a view to elucidating the problem of the performing of speech acts in a Second language context of English usage. The encoding and decoding of speech acts, the author shows, involve a network of cognitive processes in which the linguistic competence of the participants, their world knowledge, their psychological state, and their knowledge of socially and culturally relevant factors of the situation are accessed, activated, and put to work in the process of inferring the meaning and the speech act function of utterances; a process which is essentially one of semantic and pragmatic decision-making. For communication to succeed, participants in the communicative event must share mutual factual background information and be able to activate this when it proves relevant to the discourse at hand. Incompetence in the use of the target language may lead to the performance of an unintended speech act and the decoder's misinterpretation. Therefore, speakers of English in a Second language or multilingual context should make allowance for unintended speech acts, and should be particularly sensitive to the total context of communication.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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