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Types Of Speech Acts In Harry Potter

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2625 words Published: 2nd May 2017

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Communication is the most important thing on the planet earth, no human being can deny it and be separated from this means in any way, because without communication we cannot convey what we want to say, even the animals use some kind of communicative channels to express their feelings. A lot depends on how we communicate , communication gains the best results only when it is expressed properly so that both the speaker and the listener gain something form it else it is just similar to blowing air from mouth. So while this process of communication is going on many people do have a tendency use different types of utterances like structured words and also perform various actions while they are communicating. These utterances of actions while communicating were termed as Speech Acts by Yule(1996). To be more precise speech acts are acts of communication , and when communication is expressed with certain kind of an attitude and the type of speech act being performed relates to the type of attitude which is expressed for example , a request can express some kind of desire , apology would express forgiveness or sorry and so on. A speech act is said to be successful when the audience can identify the intentions of the speaker and respond back to his attitude.

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Requests, apology, statements are some forms of speech acts. According to Tsui(1996) requests are generally very polite because requires the listener to do something and these speech acts are important part of the pragmatic study. In this research paper we are looking the way pragmatics approach to analysis and speech acts which is nothing but the speakers expressing their communication and for this research paper the chosen script is from the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Aims & Objectives of This Research

This Research Paper aims at investigating the some of the Speech Acts used in the Movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

The Research Paper also aims to investigate the various other forms of Speech Acts with other Real Time Examples

A through Study of Speech Act and its Theory using the Secondary research in the Literature Review

The paper also aims at describing the actual meanings of the various speech acts used in the movie and also in general scenario.


Speech Acts, Pragmatics , Linguistics, speech act of request

Previous Works And Analysis of The Movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire with Respect to Speech Acts.

Many of the problems encountered in defining pragmatics can be directly connected to the youth of the field. In linguistics, particularly, the study of pragmatics is very young. Not enough time has passed and not enough research has been done for this study to have a firm foundation. In addition, the same factors have contributed to the fact that no coherent pragmatic theory has been established. However, according to Crystal, there is another major factor, that is the because of the shear ¿½variety of topics it [a pragmatic theory] has to account for ¿½ including aspects of deixis, conversational implicatures, presuppositions, speech acts and discourse structure.¿½ Many of these will be discussed later.

In ¿½Pragmatics¿½, Levinson pronounces that ¿½there is reason to think that the whole area [pragmatics] may be reducible to a number of different factors: to matters of presupposition and implicature on the one hand, and to the discourse functions of utterance-initial (and other) positions on the other.¿½ Let us now discuss some of the themes that make up pragmatics.

Philosophers have used presupposition for many years, however linguists have only recently begun analysing it in relation to both semantics and pragmatics. Presupposition includes two types of information in a statement or utterance. The first is the information that is the focus of the statement, such as what is the position of the salt in the statement, ¿½where is the salt¿½. The second type of information is the information that is presupposed, or assumed. For the statement ¿½where is the salt¿½ it could include ¿½I cannot see the salt

Speech acts, according to Jean Aitchison, are ¿½actions¿½. According to speech act theory, utterances are types of actions, and through them we communicate what we want. Examples of speech acts are requests, commands and promises. Crystal further clarifies the topic by referring to speech act theory as being ¿½a theory which analyses the role of utterances in relation to the behaviour of speaker and hearer in interpersonal communication.¿½

The usage of Speech Acts in the movie is highly used because it is again a kind of representation of what happens naturally in the common day today life according to Allen and Gumery (1998) where they also state that the art of film making has various social dimensions as well. L Austin (1911 -1960 ) also says that the utterances that is what the people say are almost equivalent to their actions , for example if somebody says ¿½I name this stadium ¿½ this utterance creates a new kind of social or psychological event , and many more such examples also can be added by our self like

Major General : March , Ahead ¿½ and turn right

Umpire ( Raising The finger UP) Wicket

According to the Speech Act theory these utterances have three different aspects which are

¿½ Locutioanry acts which are nothing but simple types of speech acts which have just taken place

¿½ Illocutioanry Acts which is nothing but real actions which have actually occurred or performed by any utterance, where it is associated with some kind of action meaning saying is like doing

¿½ Perlocutioanary acts are the results of the utterances on the listener

Apart form this there have been various attempts by linguists who have been trying to classify Illocutionary acts in to various categories¿½. R. Searle gives five such categories which are

¿½ Representatives — Deny , Reporting

¿½ Directives —– Challenge , Invite

¿½ Commissives —— Pledge , Guarantee

¿½ Expressives —— Appreciate , Apologize

¿½ Declarations — I declare , I say

A speech act is said to be successful when the audience can identify the intentions of the speaker and respond back to his attitude.

Requests, apology, statements are some forms of speech acts. According to Tsui(1996) requests are generally very polite because requires the listener to do something and these speech acts are important part of the pragmatic study.

The Face and Politeness Strategies of Speech Acts: The face in here refers to the speakers sense of social identity and his linguistic. A Speech act can impose any kind of thios sense and therefore can be face threatening, and hence therefore the speakers use some strategies in order to lessen this threat. There are two types of politeness one is positive and the other is negative which can have even effects on the listener.

Some of the examples which are generally used in this scenario are

¿½ Pessimism: I don¿½t suppose you could open the doors , could you ?

¿½ Hedging: Er , could you , er , perhaps , open the . ee , door?

¿½ Indicating Deference: Excuse me, sir, would you mind if I asked you to open the doors.

¿½ Impersonating: The boss requires all the doors to be opened.

¿½ Apologizing: I ¿½m terribly sorry, can you open the doors?

The Harry Potter Goblet of Fire a Fantasy Movie has various such acts there are Speech Acts and as well as Expressive acts in the movie of the script but as of now our focus is only on the Speech acts so here are some of the conversations taken from the Movie which are a kind of Speech acts but the paper mainly focuses on the Speech act of Requests.

Scenario One from the Script



Where are we actually going?


Don’t know. Hey Dad! Where are we going?


Haven’t the foggiest, keep up!


Arthur! It’s about time son.


Sorry Amos. Some of us had a bit of

a sleepy start. This is Amos Diggory

everyone, he works with me at the ministry.

And this strapping young lad must be

Cedric, am I right?


Yes sir.


Merlin’s beard, you must be Harry Potter.


Yes sir. This way.

The above line is a quote from the movie where this is an external conversation where between Harry , Ron and their Dad Arthur , The bold highlighted letter in the script ¿½Where are we actually going?¿½ is a Speech act of Question but at the same time if a proper analysis is made this can again ben classified into a surprise because of the way in which this is asked , so this utterance can be termed into a speech act of question.

There is also a quote from Arthur where he pledges and asks for Forgiveness from Amos when discussing about the slow start, so this utterance can be termed into as the speech Act of apologise.

Another instance of Request is found in another shot in the movie which is just before the beginning of this shot which was an interior shot where Hermione asks harry and Ron to wake up.

That conversation goes up like this and the script is also attached.

The participants: Harry , Ron , Amos and Arthur

Speech : Direct Speech ( Where are we actually going ?)

Scenario TWO from the




Harry is flustered and still panicing.


Are you alright?


Hermione. Bad dream. When did you get



Just now. You?


Last night.

Hermione goes over to Ron’s bed.


Wake up. Wake up Ronald!


Bloody hell.


Honestly. Get dressed, and don’t go

back to sleep. Come on Ron! Your mother

says breakfast’s ready.

The above conversation takes place in the Ron¿½s bedroom early in the morning between Ron, Harry and Hermione; all of them are good friends, where all the three are spending their holidays at Ron¿½s Place. There is a sudden scream to wake up from Hermione for both Ron and Harry as there was somebody waiting for them at the breakfast table , at which both harry and Ron were surprised but they obeyed the command of Hermione and based on the above utterance it is very clear that it is a speech act of Action . If this context is analysed more in depth we have the Dialogue Get dresses and don¿½t go back to sleep this is uttered by Hermione which is a kind of an impolite tone and this is again a speech act which is used here. There are many such utterances of various types of speech acts in the movie of which we have just seen two and there are many which we have classified based on other forms of speech acts and many of these speech acts are also found in the book harry potter which have also been considered in here in this case.

Scenario Three from the



Your attention please! I would like

to say a few words. Eternal glory, that

is what awaits the student who wins

the tri-wizard tournament. But to do

this that student must survive three

tasks. Three extremely dangerous tasks.




For this reason the ministry has seen

fit to impose a new rule. To explain

all this we have the head of the department

of international magic cooperation Mister

Bartimus Crouch.

Thunder roars overhead, rain begins leaking through the roof

and screams break out. A strange man stands in the doorway, he

casts some magic upwards and seals the roof. Peace is restored.

In this scenario Dumbledore starts of his speech with a Request your attention please where he requires all the students to listen to him so this is a speech act of request but as the speech and narration goes on this speech act of request is turning in to a speech act of conditions where the students are set three conditions for the tri-wizard Tournament where the speakers says about the rules for the tournament. So if we analyse that in a same speech which starts as a request can turn into a condition and sometimes also into anger as well. So Speech acts are a common part of the social life and can be used in many ways but the importance is how it is conveyed andwhat is its reach. In the movie Harry Potter the goblet of fire there are many such narrations out of which Three have been discussed in brief in the paper.

There are some more instances of this form the London Edition 2001 which are as follows :

The Threats and Warnings

¿½Hermione is a witch,¿½ Harry snarled. ¿½Have it your own way, Potter,¿½ said Malfoy,

grinning maliciously. ¿½If you think they can¿½t spot a Mudblood, stay where you are.¿½

¿½You watch your mouth!¿½ shouted Ron. (p. 137)

Expressing Anger

¿½Ron was shaking with fury. Everyone was staring at him. ¿½Get stuffed, Malfoy,¿½ said

Harry. ¿½C¿½mon, Ron…¿½ (p. 225)


¿½This is Hermione, friend of Ron¿½s ¿½ and Harry, another friend ¿½ ¿½ ¿½Merlin¿½s beard,¿½

said Amos Diggory, his eyes widening. ¿½Harry? Harry Potter?¿½ (p. 83)

So the above are taken from the book version of the movie and do help in understanding the various speech acts much better.

Research Methodology

The data collected for this research is mainly from the secondary sources it is a secondary data. The script of the movie has been used mainly for this research paper. The research is totally based on Secondary data. Personal effects were made to find out about the people opinion about speech acts which have come in handy to develop the report.

Data Analysis


The use and application of speech act in the socio context is almost in evitable. Speech acts are used in one format or the other whether it is in films , or in social life , these are things which can be illustrated only and the harry potter script utilised in this research is one of the finest examples for the understanding of speech acts. There is another movie also which was Shakespeare in Love also has a great script and many speech acts in it. Generally in the context of the Ethics the sentences which contains the words like good are generally used to describe but to commend and hence they are not used to make any statements which again is a question so this is almost fallacious, so when it comes to the argument of these sentences in the philosophical context of speech acts it is a fundamental problem which are almost kind of true or false statements. This type of argument was also called ass ¿½Speech of Fallacy¿½ by Searle.

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Speech acts do play a very major role in linguistics and in pragmatics. Understanding them is a must and some of the movie scripts like the one above can sometimes be extremely useful. As we have seen, speech acts, conversational implicature and presupposition are all extremely important features in pragmatics and are likely to be extremely influential and important in regards to a general pragmatic theory. However, since there is as yet no coherent general pragmatic theory in existence, we cannot be sure that the above mentioned concepts will not one day be superseded by other, more correct and legitimate ones.


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