TRAMES 2, 5, 2001


Arne Merilai

University of Tartu

THE COACHMAN (pulls the coach door open): Wachen Sie auf! Hören Sie! (two lights in the darkness draw attention to themselves.) Herr, wachen Sie doch auf, es is Zeit! (Shouting.) Es ist die höchste Zeit! (From the coach door a gentleman in a dark coat emerges, as if still half asleep.)
Vaino Vahing, Madis Kõiv. Faehlmann

Abstract. It is assumed that an utterance can perform several speech acts at a time, which is explicable by the concept of additional force. Thus, the poetic utterance Hopes are going to turn to rags can be formalised as an expressive assertive EcomplaintAdescription(p), in which the assertive act can be understood as performed in full, while the expressive achieves a partial performance by using conditions partly fulfilled by the main act. Also, such concepts as macro-speech act, complex speech act and conversational implicature have to be considered.

In analysing literary language usage the secondary modelling system has to be taken into account, symbolised by the institutionally declarative speech force R with its specifications. According to the theory, linguistic communication takes place on two contextual levels simultaneously. In the narrow (linguistic-semantic) context the type of the utterance is interpreted generally, against the background of possible worlds, while in the broad (pragmatic-semantic) context the particular meaning gets fixed according to the actuality. Figurative language usage explicates the difference of the contexts, by practising the referential function of language in the former (often in a self-defeating manner); as well as amplifying the self-referential function of language in the latter, a real rhetoric context of the author and the reader. Poetic self-referentiality of utterances is not only seen but also shown with the aid of plentiful devices indicating the poetic function R.

In the narrow context, the sincerity condition is reduced to imaginary belief; in the broad context, to actual one. The spontaneously transgressible boundary between the two contexts is signified by the symbol for the caesura ?, so the utterance can be described with the help of formulae such as Rmetaphor(ical hyperbole), assonance?EA(p)…Rirony(q) or the like. The speech force of the broad context is not applicable to the proposition as it is in the narrow context, but has the whole speech act EA(p) of the narrow scope as its object. Thus, the secondary (partial) speech act of the broad context can rather be described according to the principles of de dicto than de re speech.

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