The comprehension of ostensible speech acts


Ostensible speech acts (OSAs) have been defined as possessing pretense, mutual recognition, collusion, ambivalence, and an off-record purpose. These researchers also noted that several features occur more often in ostensible than sincere speech (e.g., speaker hedges, violates preparatory conditions). The authors examined the role of these defining and characteristic features in the comprehension of OSAs. Participants read conversations containing sincere, ambiguous, or ostensible speech acts, and provided ratings of "goodness," pretense, or mutual recognition, predicted the next speech adjudged the attitude of the speaker, or indicated the reason for the speech act. Participants differentiated between ostensible, ambiguous, and sincere speech in their "goodness" ratings, they perceived the defining features in OSAs, but not in sincere speech, and the characteristic features served as cues that an utterance was ostensible. These results support Isaacs and dark's description of OSAs. © 2005 Sage Publications.

Publication Title

Journal of Language and Social Psychology