Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Use this philosophy forum to discuss and debate general philosophy topics that don't fit into one of the other categories.

This forum is NOT for factual, informational or scientific questions about philosophy (e.g. "What year was Socrates born?"); such homework-help-style questions can be asked and answered on PhiloPedia: The Philosophy Wiki. If your question is not already answered on the appropriate PhiloPedia page, then see How to Request Content on PhiloPedia to see how to ask your informational question using the wiki.
Number2018
Posts: 42
Joined: July 29th, 2018, 12:00 pm

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Number2018 » August 27th, 2018, 7:34 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 6:43 pm

what you mean by a meaningful utterance. Must it be understood by another to be meaningful? Caregivers can often understand the sounds of infants and toddlers that to others are meaningless sounds. In the video Burning ghost linked to the heartbeat vocalization “gaga” over time becomes water. Was the child saying water all along? It is also interesting to note that the word was used with much greater frequency in the kitchen. This suggests that it is not so much a matter of social situation but something more basic.
Be understood by another without using words is possible, and it is possible to express and communicate without words, it is common for animals.
Nevertheless, possession of wordy means of language is crucial for a child's development, there is a huge gap between non-verbal kids and able to speak ones.
Verbal language facilitates a child with abilities to think, it further develops her attention, her memory, and his will, her ability to be independent of her instincts and immediate needs. And, all these are the components of composing a meaningful utterance. In principle, acquiring language is possible just in a social situation.

Fooloso4
Moderator
Posts: 3601
Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Fooloso4 » August 27th, 2018, 9:55 pm

Number2018:
Verbal language facilitates a child with abilities to think, it further develops her attention, her memory, and his will, her ability to be independent of her instincts and immediate needs. And, all these are the components of composing a meaningful utterance.
In the video “gaga” develops over time into the clear articulation of the word “water”. Was the child saying water all along even though the word was mispronounced? Or did a random noise become a meaningful utterance through some social process? I think the former is more likely and is consistent with the development of speech in my own children. Water is a meaningful utterance. If “gaga” was how the child was pronouncing water then it would be a meaningful utterance as long as someone made the connection.

You seem to be posing a chicken and egg problem - language facilitates abilities, but those abilities are the components of language.
In principle, acquiring language is possible just in a social situation.
And yet, the social situation is not possible without language. A human tribe without language would have a social situation much closer to that of other primates than humans with language.

The development of language and the development of society go hand in hand, the influence running in both directions.

User avatar
Burning ghost
Posts: 3038
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Burning ghost » August 28th, 2018, 1:40 am

Look up The Man with no Language. The social factor is what language is founded upon. As seen with feral children they are stunted in their ability to develop complex language after a certain age - this is not due to being unable to map out a full grammatical language but due to their inability to adapt to human society (what use is the term “plate” or “window” to someone brought up by wolves.)

The man with no language lived among humans into his 30’s with no comprehension of language. Once someone finally got the concept across to him he developed his vocabilary without kuch difficulty. This, I assume, is because he was living among humans and working wih them in his day-to-day life and so understand how to relate the more abstract word concepts to his personal experience.

Language is social as is human life. I am not quite sure what you mean by “social surroundings” being more important? A shared social surrounding is needed for communication obviously. You could think of this in relation to children and adults. You could talk to a 5 year old about sexual intercourse and loving a member fo the oposite sex and they’d not understand because they have not yet come to sexual maturity and therefore the concepts you’re trying to explain are alien to them (“boys smell!” or “girls are stupid” are likely responses propmted with “Urgh!” or “Yuck! Never!” - needless to say for most of us this attitude changes durign puberty.)
AKA badgerjelly

Number2018
Posts: 42
Joined: July 29th, 2018, 12:00 pm

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Number2018 » August 28th, 2018, 7:22 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 9:55 pm


In the video “gaga” develops over time into the clear articulation of the word “water”. Was the child saying water all along even though the word was mispronounced? Or did a random noise become a meaningful utterance through some social process? I think the former is more likely and is consistent with the development of speech in my own children. Water is a meaningful utterance. If “gaga” was how the child was pronouncing water then it would be a meaningful utterance as long as someone made the connection.
The invention of a single and special word, used in some particular situation, does not mean that this "gaga" actually becomes a meaningful utterance. It is rather a signal than a universal symbol, that could be applied everywhere and understood by everybody.

Fooloso4
Moderator
Posts: 3601
Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Fooloso4 » August 28th, 2018, 9:43 am

Number2018:
The invention of a single and special word, used in some particular situation, does not mean that this "gaga" actually becomes a meaningful utterance.
I think you make what is still a common mistake, taking what a competent human adult does as the measure of what language is or thinking is. This is to look through the wrong end of the scope.

First, it is not clear that it is the invention of a word rather than a mispronunciation of a word. Second, the fact that it is used in a particular situation is part of what makes it a meaningful utterance. Third, the fact that it is used in a particular situation it is part of the situation in which language naturally develops. Fourth, a developmental process is a continuum. When a toddler takes its first step it is not yet walking, but there is no exact number of steps that must be taken that constitutes walking. And no exact number of words before a child’s words become language.

Gaga might mean “bring me water”, or “I am thirsty”, it might also be used when the child is given the water, as if to say, “here’s the water” or “this is what I wanted”.

Number2018
Posts: 42
Joined: July 29th, 2018, 12:00 pm

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Number2018 » August 28th, 2018, 10:46 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 9:43 am


First, it is not clear that it is the invention of a word rather than a mispronunciation of a word. Second, the fact that it is used in a particular situation is part of what makes it a meaningful utterance. Third, the fact that it is used in a particular situation it is part of the situation in which language naturally develops. Fourth, a developmental process is a continuum. When a toddler takes its first step it is not yet walking, but there is no exact number of steps that must be taken that constitutes walking. And no exact number of words before a child’s words become language.

Gaga might mean “bring me water”, or “I am thirsty”, it might also be used when the child is given the water as if to say, “here’s the water” or “this is what I wanted”.
I think that you are making good points about a child's development. Most likely, acquiring a language by a child is impossible without successfully going through of a number of prerequisite socio-communicative stages. Nevertheless, there is a tremendous gap between non-verbal and verbal
stages in a child development.

Fooloso4
Moderator
Posts: 3601
Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Fooloso4 » August 28th, 2018, 12:08 pm

Number2018:
Nevertheless, there is a tremendous gap between non-verbal and verbal stages in a child development.
I would say that there is a tremendous difference. If there is a gap then something must bridge the gap. I see it as a continuum with periods of rapid development.

Number2018
Posts: 42
Joined: July 29th, 2018, 12:00 pm

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Number2018 » August 28th, 2018, 3:52 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 12:08 pm


If there is a gap then something must bridge the gap. I see it as a continuum with periods of rapid development.
Daniel Stern' in his book "The Interpersonal World of the Infant" proposed the following stages of a child development: the sequence of the Senses of the Self; they include the Sense of an Emergent Self (birth‐2 months of age); Sense of Core Self (2–6 months); Sense of Subjective Self (7–15 months); Sense of a Verbal Self (15 months on). According to Stern, these emerging child's Selves do not replace each other, creating stages of continuous evolution.
Instead, they coexisting as heterogenic components of one complex assemblage.

Number2018
Posts: 42
Joined: July 29th, 2018, 12:00 pm

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Number2018 » August 29th, 2018, 12:25 pm

It is necessary to differentiate a verbal utterance “I speak,” taken as a part of real everyday conversations, from “I speak” as a hidden pattern, controlling and guiding our discourses. Michel de Certeau pointed out:
"Robinson Crusoe participates in and refers to a historical displacement of the problem of
enunciation, that is to say, of the "act of speaking" or speech-act. The problem of the speaker and of his identity became acute with the breakdown of the world that was assumed to be spoken and speaking: who speaks when there is no longer a divine Speaker who founds every particular enunciation? The question returns to haunt us: who is speaking? to whom? and why?"

User avatar
Burning ghost
Posts: 3038
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Burning ghost » August 31st, 2018, 8:53 am

Austin’s view is three kinds of acts:

Locutionary act: the act of saying something
Illocutoinary act: the act of doing something by saying something
Perlocutionary act: the act of achieving something by saying something.

- from An Introduction to Linguistics and Language Studies, Anne McCabe.

So in the “Locutionary act” of uttering words anything can be classed as “performative” the distinction comes in depending on the effect and/or intent of the words. I mean this in the sense that occasionally getting dust in your eye can be construed as a wink - the effect and intent matter in communcation (obviously!)
AKA badgerjelly

Number2018
Posts: 42
Joined: July 29th, 2018, 12:00 pm

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Number2018 » August 31st, 2018, 5:03 pm

Burning ghost wrote:
August 31st, 2018, 8:53 am

So in the “Locutionary act” of uttering words, anything can be classed as “performative” the distinction comes in depending on the effect and/or intent of the words. I mean this in the sense that occasionally getting dust in your eye can be construed as a wink - the effect and intent matter in communication (obviously!)
Lazzarato wrote: "The theory of the performative speech codifies enunciations, utterances, and their effects, it also institutionalizes speakers and listeners, their respective roles and ranks, and the public sphere of their ranks, and the public space of their acts...What makes "Excuse me" a performative is what I say. Whether I am sincere or not is of no importance." The same is right about saying "I do" at the wedding ceremony. So,
the theory of the performative speech is not able to explain neither the appearance of new utterances nor to deal with an invention or transformation of their subjects.

User avatar
Burning ghost
Posts: 3038
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Burning ghost » August 31st, 2018, 5:43 pm

I said nothing anout being “sincere” just stated the three distinctions of Performative Speech as set out by Austin to back up my original statement that to speak is an act in and of itself that he named the Locutionary Act.

If I say “Duck!” sincerely you may duck only to realise I was surprised to see a duck not actually giving you a warning. A reply meant for another may easily be taken as performative speech too. That was the only thing I was remarking about with the “wink”.
AKA badgerjelly

User avatar
ThomasHobbes
Posts: 1122
Joined: May 5th, 2018, 5:53 pm

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by ThomasHobbes » August 31st, 2018, 6:07 pm

I'm puzzling to imagine how all speaking could not be performative.

Number2018
Posts: 42
Joined: July 29th, 2018, 12:00 pm

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Number2018 » August 31st, 2018, 7:05 pm

ThomasHobbes wrote:
August 31st, 2018, 6:07 pm
I'm puzzling to imagine how all speaking could not be performative.
Could you explain what performative operation you achieved by writing it? :D

User avatar
Burning ghost
Posts: 3038
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Is the utterance "I speak" a performative?

Post by Burning ghost » September 1st, 2018, 6:20 am

Food for thought:
“As soon as I was in a state to observe men, I watched them all and heard them speak; then, seeing that their actions in no way resembled their words, I sought the reason for this disjunction, and I found that being and appearing were two things as different from each other as were acting and speaking, and that this second difference was the cause of the other, and had itself a cause it remained for one to seek."

- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from his letter to Christophe de Beaumont
AKA badgerjelly

Post Reply