Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



The notion of an indirect speech act is at the very heart of cognitive pragmatics, yet, after nearly 50 years of orthodox (Searlean) speech act theory, it remains largely unclear how this notion can be explicated in a proper way. In recent years, two debates about indirect speech acts have stood out. First, a debate about the Searlean idea that indirect speech acts constitute a simultaneous realization of a secondary and a primary act. Second, a debate about the reasons for the use of indirect speech acts, in particular about whether this reason is to be seen in strategic advantages and/or observation of politeness demands. In these debates, the original pragmatic conception of sentence types as indicators of illocutionary force seems to have been getting lost. Here, I go back to the seemingly outdated “literal force hypothesis” (see Levinson 1983: 263–264) and point out how it is still relevant for cognitive pragmatics.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Allan, Keith
    2006 Clause-type, primary illocution, and mood-like operators in English. Language Sciences28(1). 1–50. 10.1016/j.langsci.2004.12.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2004.12.001 [Google Scholar]
  2. Altmann, Hans
    1993 Satzmodus. In Joachim Jacobs , Arnim von Stechow , Wolfgang Sternefeld & Theo Vennemann (eds), Syntax: Ein internationales Handbuch zeitgenössischer Forschung, vol.21, 1006–1029. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110095869.1.15.1006
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110095869.1.15.1006 [Google Scholar]
  3. Ariel, Mira
    2008Pragmatics and grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511791314
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511791314 [Google Scholar]
  4. Asher, Nicholas & Alex Lascarides
    2001 Indirect Speech Acts. Synthese128(1–2). 183–228. 10.1023/A:1010340508140
    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010340508140 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bach, Kent
    1975 Performatives are statements too. Philosophical Studies28(4). 229–236. 10.1007/BF00353970
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00353970 [Google Scholar]
  6. Bach, Kent & Robert M. Harnish
    1979Linguistic communication and speech acts. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. 1992 How performatives really work: A reply to Searle. Linguistics and Philosophy15(1). 93–110. 10.1007/BF00635834
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00635834 [Google Scholar]
  8. Bara, Bruno
    2010Cognitive pragmatics: The mental process of communication. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014113.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/9780262014113.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  9. Bayer, Josef
    2012 From modal particle to interrogative marker: A study of German denn . In Laura Brugé , Anna Cardinaletti , Giuliana Giusti , Nicola Munaro & Cecilia Poletto (eds), Functional heads: Papers presented to Guglielmo Cinque on the occasion of his 60th birthday, 13–28. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199746736.003.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199746736.003.0001 [Google Scholar]
  10. Bertolet, Rod
    1994 Are there indirect speech acts?In Savas L. Tsohatzidis (ed.), Foundations of speech act theory: Philosophical and linguistic perspectives, 335–349. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. 2017 On the arguments for indirect speech acts. Philosophia45(2). 533–540. 10.1007/s11406‑017‑9846‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-017-9846-8 [Google Scholar]
  12. Clapp, Lenny
    2009 The rhetorical relations approach to indirect speech acts. Pragmatics & Cognition17 (1). 43–76. 10.1075/pc.17.1.02cla
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pc.17.1.02cla [Google Scholar]
  13. Dascal, Marcelo
    1994 Speech act theory and Gricean pragmatics: Some differences of detail that make a difference. In Savas L. Tsohatzidis (ed.), Foundations of Speech Act Theory. Philosophical and linguistic perspectives, 323–334. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Dynel, Marta
    2018Irony, deception and humour: Seeking the truth about overt and covert untruthfulness. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9781501507922
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9781501507922 [Google Scholar]
  15. Finkbeiner, Rita & Jörg Meibauer
    (eds) 2016aSatztypen und Konstruktionen. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. 2016bRichtig gut, das Paper! Satz, non-sententiale/ unartikulierte Konstituente, Konstruktion?In Rita Finkbeiner & Jörg Meibauer (eds), Satztypen und Konstruktionen, 296–325. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. 2016c Satztyp und/oder Konstruktion?In Rita Finkbeiner & Jörg Meibauer (eds), Satztypen und Konstruktionen, 1–22. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Finkbeiner, Rita , Jörg Meibauer & Petra Schumacher
    (eds) 2012What is a context? Linguistic approaches and challenges. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins. 10.1075/la.196
    https://doi.org/10.1075/la.196 [Google Scholar]
  19. Gazdar, Gerald
    1981 Speech act assignment. In Aravind K. Joshi , Ivan A. Sag & Bonnie L. Webber (eds.), Elements of discourse understanding, 64–83. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Gibbs, Raymond W.
    1986 What makes some indirect speech acts conventional?Journal of Memory and Language25(2). 181–196. 10.1016/0749‑596X(86)90028‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0749-596X(86)90028-8 [Google Scholar]
  21. Gretsch, Petra
    2013 Satztyp und Spracherwerb. In Jörg Meibauer , Markus Steinbach & Hans Altmann (eds), Satztypen des Deutschen, 815–845. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110224832.815
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110224832.815 [Google Scholar]
  22. Grice, Paul
    1989 Logic and conversation. In Paul Grice , Studies in the way of words, 22–40. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Groefsema, Marjolein
    1992 ‘Can you pass the salt?’: A short-circuited implicature. Lingua87(1). 103–135. 10.1016/0024‑3841(92)90028‑H
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0024-3841(92)90028-H [Google Scholar]
  24. Hamblin, Charles
    1987Imperatives. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Han, Chung-hye
    2011 Imperatives. In Klaus von Heusinger , Claudia Maienborn & Paul Portner (eds), Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning, Vol.21, 1785–1804. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Harnish, Robert M.
    1982 Katz as Katz can. The Journal of Philosophy79(3). 168–171. 10.2307/2026073
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2026073 [Google Scholar]
  27. 1994 Mood, meaning and speech acts. In Savas L. Tsohatzidis (ed.), Foundations of speech act theory: Philosophical and linguistic perspectives, 407–459. London & New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. 1997 Performatives and standardization: A Progress Report. In Eckard Rolf (ed.), Pragmatik: Implikaturen und Sprechakte (Linguistische Berichte, Sonderheft 8/1997), 161–175. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. 10.1007/978‑3‑663‑11116‑0_10
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-663-11116-0_10 [Google Scholar]
  29. 2002 Are performative utterances declarations?In Günther Grewendorf & Georg Meggle (eds.), Speech Acts, mind, and social reality: Discussions with John R. Searle, 41–54. Dordrecht: Kluwer. 10.1007/978‑94‑010‑0589‑0_4
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-0589-0_4 [Google Scholar]
  30. 2004 Performatives as constatives vs. declarations. In Frank Brisard , Michael Meeuwis & Bart Vandenabeele (eds.), Seduction, Community, Speech: A Festschrift for Herman Parret, 43–74. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.127.05har
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.127.05har [Google Scholar]
  31. Huang, Yan
    2012The Oxford dictionary of pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Jacobs, Joachim
    2016 Satztypkonstruktionen und Satztypsensitivität. In Rita Finkbeiner & Jörg Meibauer (eds), Satztypen und Konstruktionen, 23–71. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Jary, Mark
    2013 Are explicit performatives assertions?Linguistics and Philosophy30(2). 207–234. 10.1007/s10988‑007‑9015‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10988-007-9015-9 [Google Scholar]
  34. Jaszczolt, Kasia M.
    2019 Rethinking being Gricean: New challenges for metapragmatics. Journal of Pragmatics1451. 15–24. 10.1016/j.pragma.2019.01.024
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2019.01.024 [Google Scholar]
  35. Katz, Jerrold J.
    1977Propositional structure and illocutionary force: A study of the contribution of sentence meaning to Speech Acts. Hassocks: The Harvester Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Kaufmann, Magda
    2013 Satztyp und Semantik. In Jörg Meibauer , Markus Steinbach & Hans Altmann (eds), Satztypen des Deutschen, 680–711. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110224832.680
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110224832.680 [Google Scholar]
  37. Kissine, Mikhail
    2012 Sentences, utterances, and speech acts. In Keith Allan & Kasia Jaszczolt (eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Pragmatics, 169–190. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139022453.010
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139022453.010 [Google Scholar]
  38. 2013From utterances to speech acts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511842191
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511842191 [Google Scholar]
  39. Krifka, Manfred
    2011 Questions. In Klaus von Heusinger , Claudia Maienborn & Paul Portner (eds), Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning, Vol.21, 1742–1784. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Lee, James L. & Steven Pinker
    2010 Rationales for indirect speech: the theory of strategic speaker. Psychological Review117(3). 785–807. 10.1037/a0019688
    https://doi.org/10.1037/a0019688 [Google Scholar]
  41. Leezenberg, Michiel
    2006 Gricean and Confucian pragmatics: A contrastive analysis. Journal of Foreign Languages 2006 (November), 2–21.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Lepore, Ernie & Michael Stone, M.
    2015Imagination and convention: Distinguishing grammar and inference in language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Lepore, Ernie & Michael Stone
    2018 Explicit indirection. In Daniel Fogal , Daniel W. Harris , & Matt Moss (eds), New work on Speech Acts, 360–383. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Levinson, Stephen C.
    1983Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511813313
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511813313 [Google Scholar]
  45. McGowan, Mary Kate , Shan Shan Tam & Margaret Hall
    2009 On indirect speech acts and linguistic communication. Philosophy84(4). 495–513. 10.1017/S0031819109990088
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0031819109990088 [Google Scholar]
  46. Meibauer, Jörg
    1986Rhetorische Fragen. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 10.1515/9783111352572
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783111352572 [Google Scholar]
  47. 2012 What is a context? Theoretical and empirical evidence. In Rita Finkbeiner , Jörg Meibauer & Petra B. Schumacher (eds), What is a context? Linguistic approaches and challenges, 9–32. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins. 10.1075/la.196.04mei
    https://doi.org/10.1075/la.196.04mei [Google Scholar]
  48. 2013 Satztyp und Pragmatik. In Jörg Meibauer , Markus Steinbach & Hans Altmann (eds), Satztypen des Deutschen, 711–736. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110224832.712
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110224832.712 [Google Scholar]
  49. Meibauer, Jörg , Markus Steinbach & Hans Altmann, H.
    (eds) 2013aSatztypen des Deutschen. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110224832
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110224832 [Google Scholar]
  50. Meibauer, Jörg , Markus Steinbach & Hans Altmann
    2013b Kontroversen in der Forschung zu Satztyp und Satzmodus. In Jörg Meibauer , Markus Steinbach & Hans Altmann (eds.): Satztypen des Deutschen, 1–19. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110224832.1
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110224832.1 [Google Scholar]
  51. Morgan, Jerry L.
    1978 Two types of convention in indirect speech acts. In Peter Cole (ed.), Pragmatics, 261–280. New York: Academic Press. 10.1163/9789004368873_010
    https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004368873_010 [Google Scholar]
  52. Munro, Allen
    1979 Indirect speech acts are not strictly conventional. Linguistic Inquiry10(2). 353–356.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Pafel, Jürgen
    2016 Satztyp und kommunikative Intention. In Rita Finkbeiner & Jörg Meibauer (eds), Satztypen und Konstruktionen, 406–432. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Pinker, Steven
    2007 The evolutionary social psychology of off-record indirect speech acts. Intercultural Pragmatics4(4). 437–461. 10.1515/IP.2007.023
    https://doi.org/10.1515/IP.2007.023 [Google Scholar]
  55. 2011 Indirect speech, politeness, deniability, and relationship negotiation: Comment on Marina Terkourafi’s “The puzzle of indirect speech”. Journal of Pragmatics43(11). 2866–2868. 10.1016/j.pragma.2011.05.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2011.05.005 [Google Scholar]
  56. Pinker, Steven , Martin A. Nowak & James J. Lee
    2008 The logic of indirect speech. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences105(3). 833–838. 10.1073/pnas.0707192105
    https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0707192105 [Google Scholar]
  57. Portner, Paul
    2009Modality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Recanati, François
    1987Meaning and force: The pragmatics of performative utterances. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Reimer, Marga
    1995 Performative utterances: A reply to Bach and Harnish. Linguistics and Philosophy18(6). 655–675. 10.1007/BF00983301
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00983301 [Google Scholar]
  60. Reis, Marga
    1999 On sentence types in german: An enquiry into the relationship between grammar and pragmatics. Interdisciplinary Journal for Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis4 (2). 195–236.
    [Google Scholar]
  61. Ruytenbeek, Nicolas
    2017 The comprehension of indirect requests: Previous work and future directions. In Ilse Depraetere & Raphael Salkie (eds), Semantics and pragmatics: Drawing a line, 293–323. Dordrecht: Springer. 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑32247‑6_17
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-32247-6_17 [Google Scholar]
  62. Ruytenbeek, Nicolas , Ekaterina Ostashchenko & Mikhail Kissine
    2017 Indirect request processing, sentence types and illocutionary forces. Journal of Pragmatics1191. 46–62. 10.1016/j.pragma.2017.07.011
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2017.07.011 [Google Scholar]
  63. Sadock, Jerrold M. and Zwicky, Arnold
    1985 Speech act distinctions in syntax. In Timothy Shopen (ed.), Language typology and syntactic description, 155–196. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  64. Searle, John R.
    1969Speech Acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139173438
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173438 [Google Scholar]
  65. 1979 Indirect speech acts. In John R. Searle , Expression and meaning: Studies in the theory of Speech Acts, 3–57. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  66. Searle, John Rogers
    1989 How performatives work. Linguistics and Philosophy12(5). 535–558. 10.1007/BF00627773
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00627773 [Google Scholar]
  67. Shapiro, Amy M. & Gregory L. Murphy
    1993 Can you answer a question for me? Processing indirect speech acts. Journal of Memory and Language32(2). 211–229. 10.1006/jmla.1993.1012
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.1993.1012 [Google Scholar]
  68. Siemund, Peter
    2018Speech Acts and clause types: English in a cross-linguistic context. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  69. Sökeland, Werner
    1980Indirektheit von Sprechhandlungen: Eine linguistische Untersuchung. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 10.1515/9783111381770
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783111381770 [Google Scholar]
  70. Soltys, Jessica , Marina Terkourafi & Napoleon Katsos
    2014 Disentangling politeness theory and the strategic speaker approach. Intercultural Pragmatics11(1). 31–56. 10.1515/ip‑2014‑0002
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2014-0002 [Google Scholar]
  71. Stefanowitsch, Anatol
    2003 A construction-based approach to indirect speech acts. In Klaus-Uwe Panther & Linda L. Thornburg (eds), Metonymy and pragmatic inferencing, 105–126. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.113.09ste
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.113.09ste [Google Scholar]
  72. Terkourafi, Marina
    2011a The puzzle of indirect speech. Journal of Pragmatics43(11). 2861–2865. 10.1016/j.pragma.2011.05.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2011.05.003 [Google Scholar]
  73. 2011b Why indirect speech is not a natural default: Rejoinder to Steven Pinker’s ‘Indirect Speech, Politeness, Deniability, and Relationship Negotiation’. Journal of Pragmatics43(11). 2869–2871. 10.1016/j.pragma.2011.05.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2011.05.006 [Google Scholar]
  74. 2013 Re-assessing the speech act schema: Twenty-first century reflections. International Review of Pragmatics5(2). 197–216. 10.1163/18773109‑13050203
    https://doi.org/10.1163/18773109-13050203 [Google Scholar]
  75. 2014 The importance of being indirect: A new nomenclature for indirect speech acts. Belgian Journal of Linguistics281: 45–70. 10.1075/bjl.28.03ter
    https://doi.org/10.1075/bjl.28.03ter [Google Scholar]
  76. Wharton, Tim
    2010 Context. In Louise Cummings (ed.), The Pragmatics encyclopedia, 74–75. London & New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  77. Zufferey, Sandra
    2015Acquiring pragmatics: Social and cognitive perspectives. London & New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error