To produce an utterance is to engage in a certain kind of interaction. This is a fact that, until recently, logicians and philosophers of language have tended to overlook thought it has been stressed by linguists, psychologists, sociolinguists, and anthropologists. One of the most features of the theory of speech act, which was introduced into the philosophy of language by J. L. Austin, is that it give explicit recognition to the social or interpersonal dimension of language behaviour and provide a general framework for the discussion of semantic and syntactic distinctions that linguists have traditionally described in terms of mood and modality (in Lyons 1977:p.725).
Austin criticizes the view that the main purpose of sentences would be to state facts or to describe some state of affairs as either true or false. He argues against, which retains the view that the only meaningful statements are those that are verifiable (Austin.1976: p.2). Instead, Austin claims that such truth-evaluable sentences only constitute one type of utterance, pointing out that there are other types of utterances which are neither true nor false, but nonetheless meaningful. He calls this second type of utterance "performative". Performatives are used to carry out an action. In that they differ from other types of declarative sentences (constatives) which only describe the world (constatives) in systematic ways. On the syntactic level, however, both performatives and constatives take the grammatical form of declarative sentences. Austin revises his theory considerably in the course of his lectures and eventually replaces the dichotomy ‘performative’ vs. ‘constative’ with a more general theory of speech acts which regards every utterance as a type of action.
Lyons (1977) which is cited by Nitiasih shows that there are two characteristics of speech act, they are:
1) Speech act does not refer to the act of speaking as such (i.e. to the production of actual spoken utterance), but to something more abstract.
2) Speech act is not restricted to communication by means of spoken language because there are also certain non-linguistic communicative acts conveying certain meanings.
Speech act can be analysed on three levels. In Austin’s further development of investigating about speech act, he drew three dictinctions between Locutionary acts, Illocutionary acts, and Perlocutionary acts as the following:
1) A Locutionary Act is an act of saying; the production of meaningful utterance, the utterance of certain noises, the utterance of certain words in a certain construction, and the utterance of them with a certain ‘meaning’ in the favourite philosophical sense of that word, i.e. with a certain sense and a certain reference (Austin 1962: p.944 as cited by Lyons 1977: p.730). see examples of locutionary acts.
2) An Illocutionary Act is an act performed in saying something; making a statement or promise, issuing a command or request, asking a question, christening a ship, etc. see examples of illocutionary acts.
3) A Perlocutionary Act is an act performed by means of saying something; getting someone to believe that something is so, persuading someone to do something, moving someone to anger, consoling someone in his distress, etc. see examples of perlocutionary acts.
A short illustration example of the relationship between those three acts above can be seen as follows:
In uttering the locution "Is there any salt?" at the dinner table, one may thereby perform the illocutionary act of requesting salt, as well as the distinct locutionary act of uttering the interrogatory sentence about the presence of salt, and the further perlocutionary act of causing somebody to hand one the salt.