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Performative vs. Constative Sentence

Philosophically sentence is devided into two categories, performative and constative. Performative is a sentence which does not describe nor affirm about fact but contains a felicity condition, that is a certain condition that have to be fulfilled when the perform takes place. There are five characteristics of performative sentence, they are:

(1) The subject of performative sentence must be in the form of first person pronoun;
(2) The verb must be in the same category with performative verbs such as tell, say, demand, advice, ask etc.;
(3) The object of performative sentence is always a second person pronoun;
(4) It must be in the form of affirmative not negative;
(5) It must be in the form of present tense.

e.g. Stand up!
Note:
- The deep structure of the above sentence before encountering modification (become imperative) is
"I command you to stand up."
- Felicity condition of the above sentence:
¢Your addressee is sitting, or laying, or ducking, etc.
¢Your addressee has ability to stand (not cripple)

On the other hand, constative sentence is a sentence which affirms about fact, reports events, and describes situation and condition. It must contain truth values.

e.g.  Prices slumped.

The sentence is true if the fact in the actual world the prices are slumped. If in fact they are not slumped, you can simply say that the sentence is false.

However, when you take a look constative deeper, you will find that it also fulfills the five criteria of perfomative sentence, since the above example of constative sentence is only in the level of surface structure, in deep structure, it will become: “I tell you that price slumped”. In this form the constative sentence also has the all criteria take to become a performative sentence. Therefore, in short we can simply say that constative sentence is also included into performative sentence. You will find the reflection of the principle of maximum ease of articulation in this pattern. The metrical sentence “I tell you …” is unnecessarily to say, so that it is omitted. A sentence “I tell you that prices slumped” encounters a modification or a deletion process in the phrase “I tell you …” it appears only the surface structure “prices slumped”. Other examples of this phenomenon are that:









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