Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Strength Of Illocutionary Point


Strength of illocutionary point is the strength of assertion of, commitment to bring about, direction to another to bring about, or expression of a psychological state toward the propositional content of an illocutionary act.


Searle and Vanderveken 1985, to whom are due the terms degree of strength of illocutionary point and degree of strength of sincerity conditions, allow that there is generally a correlation between the two terms. However, they cite requesting and ordering as illocutionary acts that show a distinction between the two strengths. Ordering, in their analysis, has a greater degree of strength of illocutionary point than requesting, due at least in part to the institutional authority of the orderer. But they hold that ordering does not necessarily express a commitment to a stronger accompanying psychological state of desire; that is, requesting and ordering need not have a different degree of strength of the sincerity conditions, despite their different degree of strength of illocutionary point. Thus, they distinguish the two terms.


The second act in each pair has a greater degree of strength of illocutionary point than the first:

  • Suggesting and swearing
  • Promising and vowing
  • Requesting and demanding
  • Approving and endorsing