MODALITY MARKERS IN THE SPEECH ACTS OF ASSURANCE IN ENGLISN AND BULGARIAN SPOKEN DISCOURSE
The present article aims at collecting, classifying and analysing the modality markers identified in two corpora /English and Bulgarian/ in the structure of a particular speech act. The paper dwells specifically on a particular type of communicative act which belongs to two groups of illocutionary acts illustrated in the paper by the verb ‘assure’ and its Bulgarian equivalent. It further investigates the conventional syntactic patterns of the representative verb in both languages and its combinations with a marker of modality. The paper first dwells on the semantics of the verb ‘assure’, followed by a detailed systematization of all syntactic structures the verb can form, finally examining the pragmatic aspect of all ‘assure’ utterances focusing primarily on modality marking. With reference to the given corpora the English language data were extracted from BNC of spoken language in which all syntactic combinations of the verb ‘assure’ in its first person singular form, present simple tense were identified and classified and data taken from seven consecutive emissions of a popular Bulgarian talk show Milen Tsvetkov’s hour on Nova Television in which the debaters perform various types of illocutionary speech acts.
Since the paper deals with issues characteristic to pragmatics of speech acts, what comes central in the process of analysing specific communicative utterances is not only the propositional attitude that is being expressed but the illocutionary force that may derive from the propositional content, too. In that respect, the analysis should not be confined to the boundaries of a simple sentence which prioritizes the propositional attitude but should also be regarded in a broader context, beyond the boundaries of a clause, where the illocutionary attitude can be identified (Tsvetkova 2017). Given that, the verb ‘assure’ should be investigated syntactically and semantically on sentence level whereas its performative nature will be examined in a combination of several sentences in a specific contextual surrounding.
According to pragmatic theory there are different classifications of speech acts that more or less overlap and throughout the years have upgraded adding particular nuances to the speech act realizations (Austin 1962; Strawson 1964; Searle 1969; Hymes 1974; Bach, Harnish 1979). In Searle’s theory there are five basic groups of speech acts: assertives, directives, commissives, expressives and declaratives while Bach and Harnish distinguish four main groups: constatives, directives, commissives and acknowledgements. In Bach and Harnish’s classification assertives are a subclass of constative communicative acts. The majority of scientists agree that the verb ‘assure’ has both an assertive and commissive use. A statement is considered an assertive illocutionary act when it represents a state of affairs in the world (a proposition) which is true with the perlocutionary force of someone having doubts about the validity of the proposition whereas, on the other hand, a statement is regarded as a commissive speech act when a person commits him/herself to something with the perlocutionary intention of convincing someone who has doubts. For example: I assure you that everything will turn out fine for you /assertive use/; I can assure you that I will do this immediately /commissive use/. Special attention is paid on modality markers, auxiliary modal verbs, in particular, which could further add additional pragmatic meaning to the performative utterance. In that respect, deontic and epistemic contexts are taken into account which may have a certain impact on the content of expressions in an utterance.
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