Construction of Illocutionary Speech Meaning: Analyses of Conversational Narratives of a Chinese 60-year-old Woman

Dongyi Zhu


This case study centres to focus on 4 recording transcriptions as the main data from an outside-in perspective, to aim to analyze the different illocutionary forces expressed by a 60-year-old Chinese woman; thus, to seek whether there are any illocutionary differences between familiar people and strangers conveyed from her stories. Although some research has been done on Chinese speakers’ categorization of speech acts, narrative and cognitive activities in conversational storytelling, and some have shown that for Chinese speakers, their utterance comprehension involves speech act recognition. However, concerning of the illocutionary acts in conversational narratives, the research is far from adequate. A complete pragmatic method of narrative could adopt both an outside-in approach to functions of narrative in context, looking at what we accomplish in telling stories and at what effects pragmatics have in speech events; and an inside-out approach, looking at how recurrent units function within narratives. The results showed that conversational stories were performed with the different kinds of illocutionary speech act functions not just to state or illustrate an affair or a point, but with illocutionary forces both direct and indirect in apologizing, requesting and rejecting, even indirect in declarations, which had gained opposite ideas from Norrick’s (2015) claim in the denying of this function in conversational narratives. The study also showed that the leading narrator, the lady, employed identity construction in involving more direct illocutionary acts to familiar people than to strangers, and more indirect illocutionary acts in the entire narratives.


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English Linguistics Research
ISSN 1927-6028 (Print)   ISSN 1927-6036 (Online)

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