The speech act status of incitement: Perlocutionary acts revisited

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The article is a two-pronged study. From the initial assumption that the act of incitement is a perlocutionary act, which depends for its success on hearer cooperation, it is shown that what makes a speech act an act of incitement depends solely on its interpretation in the situation in which it is performed; the hearer may be the potential object of the speech act, but its performance occurs without his/her active participation. This analysis for incitement conforms with its status in legal discourse. The second, wider, issue is the entire question of perlocutionary acts and their place in speech act theory in particular and in pragmatics in general. On the basis of an analysis of the act of persuasion as well as of that of incitement, it seems that what is of concern to pragmatics is the illocutionary act with the speaker's purpose as an integral part, while the actual effect on the hearer is not: a necessary condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-596
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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