Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Strength Of Illocutionary Point

Definition: 

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.

Discussion: 

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.

Examples: 

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
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