By: Shisir Parajuli
Every word has a meaning. This meaning is correlated with words. Word’s meaning has been different through out different context. Meaning of words differs from person to person, culture to culture, society to society and country to country. Word’s meanings have different types, it can function somewhere as irony, somewhere as literal meaning, somewhere as emotive meaning. Meaning of words can be subjective because determination of the meaning can be fixed only by the critical role of readers. Meaning of one words will be common for one but that meaning can be uncommon for others because it is the effect of alternatives view of language system which is the series that deals with discontinuous games, or games of language; fixing of the meaning of the text is not absolutely specific but contextually determined by the readers of the text. And as a reader of the theories of Austin and Richards; I am dealing with each of the theories with three stories.
Austin theory of speech act rejects the old logical positivist view of language as description of a state of affairs in the world. Austin theory of speech act is closely related with irony because performance of an act in saying something. He further defines different types of speech act, including constative and performative. As Austin defines speech act in one hand and Richards defines his emotive theory through literal and emotive meaning. Where literal meaning closely related with referential meaning which is related with an idea of an object and emotive meaning related with context or emotions.
Austin’s theory of the speech act and Richards’s theory of emotive language resembles with each others. Speech act distinguishes between constative and performative, the former begin an ‘assertion’ or ‘description’ the latter being an ‘utterance which allows us to do something by means of speech itself.’ A performative is a way of doing things with words, as in the example of promise, baptising or christening, the naming of ships, or the priest saying ‘I now pronounce you man and wife,’ whereby the words enforce a social reality within a given and common understood cultural context. The act of public exhibition that results in a transactions between performer and audience; an utterance that, via its public display, causes a linguistic interaction with the exhibition’s object.
I.A. Richards’s emotive theories distinguish between emotive and referential meaning. Emotive meaning functions as a dynamic rather than description. Referential meaning on the other hand relates with descriptive. Emotive meaning ‘express’ rather than ‘inform.’ Marguerite H. Foster in his ‘Poetry and Emotive meaning’ also defines same as I.A. Richards in his ‘The meaning of meaning’ defines ‘emotive terms’ as the use of words to express or excite feelings and attitude, and ‘the symbolic use of words is statement; the recording, the support, the organization and the communication of references’ (657).
Austin’s speech act and Richards’s emotive theories seem similar in the perception of meaning as; constative meaning relates with referential meaning or direct meaning and performative meaning relates with emotive meaning or contextual meaning. These two theories related with irony because irony means something that meaning is different from our perception it means that the meaning of irony closely related with the Austin’s speech act where irony can perform as constative and performative as well. Then the meaning of one words differ from context to context and reader to reader that meaning also deals with emotive theories of Richards’s which is also related with the meaning of words with literal and emotive meaning.
David J. Amante in his ‘The Theory of Ironic Speech’ defines " Ironic speech acts have three participants: an ironist (or eiron, henceforth both terms will be used), one or more observers of irony, and a target for irony" (77). Irony is the matter of perception and it must, to become manifest, be seen by an observer or it does not exist. Observer means the audience who participants of the related text. Who observes the text care fully and justified the text through dealing with different context as historically, socially and in the terms of religious aspect.
Firstly, Sadat Hasan Manto’s story ‘Open it’ has also these three participants of ironic speech act where an ironist is the writer or author of the story, observers are audiences of the text and targets of the text are the suffering women representing Sakina. Secondly, Richards mayne’s story F**D has also three aspect of participants where ironist is the author, observers are audiences and targets are that the setting of the story and husband and wife who are struggling for preparing chicken.
Ted Cohen in his ‘Figurative Speech and Figurative Acts’ argues that "Austin’s speech act consist of three kinds of acts- three way of doing things with words" (669). He generated the abbreviated formula- which he qualifies extensively-
Acts of saying something: locutions (L)
Acts done in saying something: illocutions (I)
Acts done by saying something: perlocutions (P)
We can apply the Manto’s story to this formula as in this way:
(L): Soldier said to her Open it.
(I): Soldier urged her Open it.
(P): Soldier persuaded her to Open it.
Austin thinks that illocutions are related to locutions by conventions (whatever exactly that may mean) and that perlocutions are not connected in this way. The commission of a locution leads to the occurrence of an illocution, but it does so automatically by means of the rules of language. Austin thought that sentences were either performative or constative that a clean distinction could be made between them. Austin language of illocutionary and perlocutionary effects allows us to analyze every text’s orientation towards affecting an audience rather than committing ourselves to the debilitating either/ or taxonomy of persuasive versus referential discourse that is the product of the related text.
Irony is one of the influential device which is used in the literary works for different perceptive. Mainly irony is used in literary works to makes meaning of one text different from one another. Using of irony makes the text more interesting. As Manto and Mayne also use irony in their text to make that text strong in both emotionally and intellectually. On the basis of that idea; Jack C. Gray in his ‘Irony: A Practical Definition’ defines "Irony is widely employed literary device. There are almost as many different kinds of irony as there are instances of it, and it can produce emotional and intellectual effects in endless variety" (220). Irony makes the readers quite aware about the hidden meaning of the text. If the reader observes the text carefully then their emotional and intellectual effects affect the text.
Gray further says "Irony can be a figure of speech, an effect, an attention, an outcome, a pretended ignorance, and merely a vague sort of quality" (220). Irony makes the text more exasperating and perplexing. Short glance of looking toward the text is not sufficient to understand the irony of the text. The figure of speech as metaphor and simile makes the irony more stronger. As in the Mayne’s story F**D we can’t understand the text for the first time. Using of sensual images like ‘full curves of her breast and leg, lips parted, her head thrown back’ etc in the story makes our perception different than the actual meaning of the story.
Irony means showing one thing but telling another thing. The text which have irony makes the meaning of one thing different in literally and actually or textually so as Brooks and Warren in their book ‘Modern Rhetoric’ give an amended and enlarged discussion of irony as "Irony always involves a discrepancy between the literal meaning of a statement and its actual meaning" (363). Manto’s story Open it has also irony. If we go through the story we can find the meaning of Open it different literal level and actual level. The text shows irony toward the action of volunteer, father happiness and doctor sweat. In the last moment of story the victim girl Sakina is in her death bed where she is motionless. The doctor checks her pulse and said ‘The window, open it!’ At the sound of the words, Sakina’s death body moves and undid her salwar and lowered it. Her father is happy but doctor drenched with sweat from head to toe. The utterance ‘Open it’ makes the irony here where Sakina is habituated with gang rape by volunteer and understand the order same as she used to do it before coming to hospital.
From the middle 19th century the pornography has been widely used in the text. Actually the very term pornography refers the explicit depiction of sexual subject matter; a display of material of an erotic nature. Pornography uses sensual images and erotic feelings by using female characters. Jennifer Saul in her book ‘Pornography, Speech Acts and Context’ argues with Catharine Mackinnon idea as "The pornography is the subordination of women" (230). Speech act works of pornography are little attention has been devoted to the more general idea that works of pornography can be understood.
Mackinnon claims that pornography silences women. Langton defends this claim as well, arguing that works of pornography can be understood as illocutionary acts of silencing women. Both Manto’s and Mayne’s stories have pornographic sense. In the both story women are silencing. In the manto’s Open it; main character Sakina is being victim and being silence and Mayne’s story F**D the women who works in the kitchen presenting as a pornographic sense. Viewers of these two stories surface mean the pornographic sense that dealing with women. Pornography also deals with Austin’s speech act and Richards’s emotive theories because the meaning of pornography in the text seems related with speech act as in the story Open it where the doctor’s utterance makes the different sense toward Sakina that resembles with both irony and pornography and in the story F**D the readers find out different meaning as different from actual meaning and emotive meaning. The text is actually deals with preparing the meal in the kitchen but we found different meaning than the textual meaning.
In conclusion, Austin’s speech act and Richards’s emotive theories concerns with the different meaning of one text. Pornography also talks with Austin’s speech act and Richards’s emotive theories because the meaning of pornography in the text seems related with speech act and emotive theories in terms of meaning. Irony always involves a discrepancy between the literal meaning of a statement and its actual meaning or textual meaning. Irony develops with the development of figure of speech, an effect, an attention, an outcome, a pretended ignorance, and merely a vague sort of quality. Literary device needs the irony. There are almost as many different kinds of irony as there are instances of it, and it can produce emotional and intellectual effects in endless variety. Austin’s speech act and Richards’s emotive theories effects allows us to analyze every text’s orientation towards affecting an reader rather than committing ourselves to the debilitating either/ or taxonomy of persuasive versus referential discourse that is the product of the related text. Both theories perform with the meaning of text that meaning of words can be subjective because determination of the meaning can be fixed only by the critical role of readers. Word’s meanings have different types, it can function somewhere as irony, somewhere as literal meaning, somewhere as emotive meaning and that all types of meaning deals with both speech acts and emotive theories.
Amante, David J. "The Theory of Ironic Speech Acts." Poetics Today 2.2
(Winter, 1981). 77-96
Cohen, Ted. "Figurative Speech and Figurative Acts." The Journal of Philosophy
72.19 (Nov.6, 1975). 669-684
Foster, Marguerite H. "Poetry and Emotive Meaning." The Journal of Philosophy
47. 3 (Nov.9, 1950). 657-660
Saul, Jennifer. "Pornography, Speech Acts and Context." Proceedings of the
Aristotelian Society 106 (2006). 229-248