How to do things without words

Grimwood, Tom ORCID logo ORCID: and Miller, Paul K. ORCID logo ORCID: (2014) How to do things without words. In: Garvey, Brian, (ed.) JL Austin on Language. Philosophers in Depth . Palgrave MacMillan, London, pp. 70-85. Full text not available from this repository.

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The impact of J.L. Austin’s Speech-Act Theory has resonated throughout the social sciences over the last three decades, not least in its catalysis of the so-called linguistic turn and the rise of cultural studies. Since this original shockwave, a great deal of innovation and progress in the study of ordinary language itself has emanated from these social sciences, not least among which is Harvey Sacks’ Conversation Analytic approach (see Sacks, 1972; 1984; 1992a; 1992b). Pioneered by Sacks, and strongly influenced by the methods of ethnomethodologist Harold Garfinkel (1967; 1996; 2007), Conversation Analysis (henceforth CA) has, over the last four decades, built on many of the foundational principles of Austin’s work in developing a working corpus of research addressing how ordinary conversation works in concrete, empirical situations. The flow of intellectual influence with respect to the understanding of how “ordinary language” works has, however, been largely monodirectional; ideas have moved steadily from philosophy into the realms of the social sciences, with very little converse drift. In this chapter it is argued that, despite this historically-ingrained disciplinary tide, there is much that CA can “give back” to Austin scholars – particularly in terms of the how dialogue might be pragmatically conceptualised. As a thematic lynchpin, focus falls chiefly upon Sacks’ criticisms of the persistent employment of invented and “ideal” cases of language-use endemic to the Speech-Act tradition. Using such idealisations is, from Sacks’ perspective, inimical to any claim regarding the provision of insight into the “ordinary” language that actually manifests in real social interactions. Furthermore, the implications of this important charge are elucidated herein with reference to one particular substantive component of conversational practice in which the discrepancies between “real” and “ideal” examples become especially salient: silence.

Item Type: Book Section
Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan
ISBN: 9781137329981
Departments: Institute of Health > Medical Sciences
Institute of Health > Psychology and Psychological Therapies
Depositing User: Paul Miller
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2014 13:16
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 12:31
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