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Title: Speech acts and cultural context: a pragmatic analysis of debates at the County assembly of Bomet, Kenya
Authors: Cherono, Rotich Hellen
Keywords: Speech acts and cultural context
Issue Date: Aug-2023
Publisher: Egerton University
Abstract: The study examined the utterances of Members of County Assembly of Bomet in order to establish the influence of cultural context on the participants’ use of speech acts. The use of speech acts varies across different contexts and this variability has been noted to cause communication breakdown in some speech situations. Effective communication is possible when interlocutors share the same cultural background which enables them to interpret speech utterances appropriately.The objectives of the study were to examine the types of speech acts that participants use during debates, to determine the functions of the speech utterances, to examine how the participants use the cultural practices of the Kipsigis to creatively justify their claims during debates, and finally to establish the relationship between the use of speech acts and gender. No comprehensive study has focused on the County Assembly of Bomet specifically, on the significance of cultural context on speech acts that are used during debates by Members of County Assembly. Successful communication not only depends on adequate knowledge of the language but also on an understanding of what is appropriate to utter in particular situations. For debaters particularly, an understanding of what hastens consensus is critical. When debaters fully comprehend the functions of utterances, effective communication can be attained. The function of an utterance is determined not only by the structure or type of the sentence but by a complex interaction between form and context. The study used Austin’s (1962) Speech Act Theory and the Five Categories of Speech Acts identified by Searle (1969, 1976, 2005). The research further incorporated insights in the study of speech acts from Sotillo (2017) and Davis (1979). Three Motions, purposively sampled, were examined. The data from the Hansards of Bomet County Assembly was collected using observation guide and note-taking. Data collected was analyzed using descriptive statistics. The results showed that every utterance produced by the participants in the County Assembly could be categorized under one of the major categories of speech acts proposed by Searle (1969) and for each major speech act there was a wide range of sub acts with various pragmatic forces. The results further showed that the cultural context of utterances is significant for proper interpretation of meaning. The study provides real-life examples from the Kipsigis community, and data for researchers in Pragmatics. Participants engaged in argumentative discourse can benefit from a deeper understanding of the various types of speech acts at their disposal which they can use to minimize the confrontational nature of their interactions
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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