• Phyllis Kaburise
Keywords: pragmatics, speech act theory, direct and indirect speech acts, implicature, inference and context


Speech Act Theory (SAT), a theory in pragmatics, is an attempt to describe what happens during linguistic interactions. Inherent within SAT is the idea that language forms and intentions are relatively formulaic and that there is a direct correspondence between sentence forms (for example, in terms of structure and lexicon) and the function or meaning of an utterance. The contention offered in this paper is that when such a correspondence does not exist, as in indirect speech utterances, this creates challenges for English second language speakers and may result in miscommunication. This arises because indirect speech acts allow speakers to employ various pragmatic devices such as inference, implicature, presuppositions and context clues to transmit their messages. Such devices, operating within the non-literal level of language competence, may pose challenges for ESL learners.

Author Biography

Phyllis Kaburise
Phyllis Kaburise is in the language section of the English Department, University of Venda. Her research interests are in pragmatics and language literacy development.