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[Lecture] Assertions and Performative​ Speech Acts
Sep. 26, 2023

Speaker: Manfred Krifka

Time: 15:00-17:00 p.m., September 26, 2023, GMT+8

Venue: Room 3205, No. 3 Building, 人文学苑


Assertions are an essential feature of human communication. I will discuss the idea of assertions as expressing beliefs and its problems, and argue for an account in which assertions are commitments of speakers for the truth of propositions that may affect their social reputation. I will discuss how assertions can be strengthened or weakened, e.g., with epistemic and evidential modifiers, and present results from a recent experiment on the effect of such modifiers on the credibility of speakers. I will contrast assertions with performative speech acts that do not inform about the state of the world, but change this state. And I will argue that the commitment a speaker undergoes when asserting a proposition also is a performative act. As for technical aspects, I will sketch a model of common ground change that allows for performative and informative updates, and a model of syntactic representations of performatives and assertions that elucidates the way how epistemics and evidentials work.


Krifka, Manfred. 2023. Layers of assertive clauses: Propositions, judgments, commitments, acts. In Jutta M. Hartmann & Angelika Wöllstein (eds.), Propositionale Argumente im Sprachvergleich: Theorie und Empirie, 115–181. Tübingen: Narr.

Source: Department of Chinese Language and Literature