Research article
Issue: № 7 (35), 2022


The subject matter of the paper is the analyses of communicative acts from the position of the Observer – interpreter. The Observer expresses his/her communicative intentions through the language. In the linguistic conceptualization the Observer can be defined as a perceptive, manipulative and cognitive discursive category combining the act of perception with the evaluation. The focus of research attention is exclusively on the cognitive hypostasis of the Observer. The Observer acts as an analytical tool of conceptual-semantic analysis in various hypostases, reflecting the entire palette of human perception: physical sensations, emotional (affective) reactions, evaluation and mental activities. In many ways, the functioning of the Observer in one role (when the Observer combines the role of the subject of perception and the subject of affective assessment) or another (when he/she acts as an addressee) depends on the nature of the Observed, with the obvious fact that the Observed always takes place when it comes to the Observer.

The data analysis is carried out on the English language material. The Observer’s sphere of concepts interacting with the speech units results in different types of language interpretation in the process of communication and cognition. The results of this research can be of certain interest for English pragmatics, English language lexicology and cognitive linguistics studies.

1. Introduction

As it has been fairly marked by a famous linguist E.S. Kubryakova, that language phenomenon must be considered as a dyad of a language and a human [9]. However, it also must be considered that human speech behavior is both biologically and culturally guided [5]. A human being is the one, who perceives, evaluates and interprets speech subject communication. The Observer – interpreter can act both, as an addressee and a third-party listener. Acting as an interpreter of a communicative situation, the Observer has the freedom of choice of language means to describe the communicative/speech act. But the Observer’s task is not just to describe a speech act, but to interpret it, keeping the informative party. So the most important part of a speech act is not just the proposition, but “how” it was pronounced [2], [3], [7].

The “how” becomes relevant when it comes to the perception in the communicative process. The perceptive party takes a dominant position when we analyze communicative acts of different type: communicative act of complaint, thread, command etc. The analysis is performed from the position of the Observer-interpreter of a communicative act.

A human-being, acting as the Observer in the process of communication, is in the focus of modern science, including cognitive linguistics. The Observer perceives, evaluates and interprets the world around. He/she articulates what had been seen or heard in the light of the linguistic and conceptual view of the world.

It has been generally accepted that the language is the cultural reflection of a nation. Therefore, the Observer’s linguistic world image becomes the most relevant in the terms of our research. It has been used to express the reality perceived by the Observer through peculiar language means, like, the English language speech verbs: to snarl, to bark, to whine, to babble etc.

Human cognition is responsible for the involvement of the Observer-interpreter’s cognitive system in the external environment. His/her productive functioning and adaptation in this environment is conditional upon structural human consciousness. It is human factor that provides effective verbal communication in different spheres of human activity: social and domestic, professional and scientific.

Mentality consistency makes it possible for a human to establish and identify interaction between events and objects of reality, and to predict its development. It means that the Observer of a communicative/speech act is able not just to interpret the proposition, he/she is able to inference during the communicative process.

The primary nature of auditory and visual sense modality finds expression in perceptive and cognitive interaction between the Observer and an outside world.

Despite the primary nature of hearing perception in the communicative process, auditory perceived impression is not less relevant. Mechanism of cognitive metonymy works in the process of semantic derivation of meaning and its conceptual structuring [13], [23].

Metonymy motivates lexical and semantic derivation of meaning of some speech verbs in the English language. These verbs are used to describe different types of communicative acts, such as communicative act of complaint, thread, command etc.

The present study is guided by the following research questions:

· Who is the Observer, and what is his/her role in the communicative process?

· What is the main aim of communicative acts of order/command, complaint and threat?

· What language means are used by the Observer-interpreter to identify the illocutionary intentions in the process of communication?

2. Communicative act of order/command

Speech acts of this type express the direct motivation of the addressee to commit or imperfect the action. Speech predicates order and command, often interpreted through each other, explicitly enter commands and orders.

Illocutionary predicate to command has the following definitions: to give (someone) an order: to tell (someone) to do something in a forceful and often official way [29]; to tell someone officially to do something, especially if you are a military leader, a king etc; to be responsible for giving orders to a group of people in the army, navy etc. commander [28]. Famous linguists [10], [22] claim that speech acts of such type (command) are impolite and threatening to an addressee. Therefore, the necessary condition for their implementation is the presence of power relations between the participants in communication. As T.V. Larina notes [11], in such situations, the subject of speech, due to his/her higher social status (official position, age, etc.), has power over the addressee and, therefore, has the right to give the addressee a command. Since the addressee is in a subordinate position, he/she is obliged to comply with the order/command.

1) She must have barked an order at the driver because he hurled himself into the driver’s seat and pulled away from the curb [25];

2) Helen set down her mother’s head and barked orders at her brother. “You wait with her, hear?” [25];

3) Now, the barrel-chested pilot barked commands to his crew, and they hooked up water pipes to refill the boiler chambers for the long journey into Crown City [25].

The examples presented contain a communicative predicate to bark, that perfectly describes the speech act of an order/command. Speech verb to bark is described in the English language dictionaries as follows: to shout or say (something) in a loud and angry way [29]; If you bark at someone, you shout at them aggressively in a loud, rough voice [26]; to say something quickly in a loud voice [28].

The distinctive components loud, rough, aggressively, angry are illustrative of a definite emotional state of a speech subject: irritation, anger, wrath. The Observer-interpreter perceives and evaluates such speech manner as a negative one:

4) "Don’t just stand there, give me a hand," she barked at the shop assistant [28];

5) A policeman held his gun in both hands and barked an order [26].

This predicate is summoned to form acoustic and evaluative perception of the communicative situation by the Observer-interpreter. Voice characteristics attracted the Observer’s attention by their unusual sounding: loud, rough voice, angry way. These characteristics work towards creation of communicative subject’s image. In this particular situation – a negative one.

In view of the fact that the communicative act of order/command allows the subject of speech to force the addressee to act, the use of politeness strategies in the order is not mandatory, which means that they may lack language means that reduce the categoricity of the policy statement.

6) “Who the hell says I can’t?” he thundered pugnaciously in a voice loud enough to rattle the whole building. “Why the hell can’t I? You mean I can’t shoot anyone I want to? Is that a fact?” [25].

7) His voice thundered out of the phone, “I repeat, except when to do so would injure others!” “I know. I am sorry” [25].  

Communicative predicate to thunder has the following definitions: to shout (something) very loudly [29]; to shout loudly and angrily [28]. Distinctive characteristics loudly and angrily describe emotional state of the speaker (commanding, wrath) and express his authoritative position towards an addressee.

8)  “The people do not have the right to undermine the authority of the Assembly!” the captain thundered [25]. 

9) “There is a feeling that some seditionists are revived and have become ambitious,” thundered Mr. Khatami, his eyes bulging as his voice rose, his hand on the barrel of an AK-47 assault rifle [25].

Both examples illustrate authoritative position towards an addressee, in example 8 the captain addresses an assembly with the authority of his position, while Mr. Khatami doesn’t have such an authoritative position, but he has got the rifle, what gives him an authority. The speech attracted the Observer’s attention with its unusual sounding (loudly, angrily).

An illocutionary act in J. Austin's theory is a conventional and conscious use of the locution [12]. As a subjective conscious use of the language, it is endowed with the obligatory sign of purpose (indent). But non-linguistic conditions conventions governing the types of illocutionary acts are difficult to define. An illocutionary speech act turns out to be dependent on the circumstances and (preparatory) conditions of the pragmatic situation as a whole, and not only on conventional ways of expressing communicative intentions [22].

3. Communicative act of complaint

Communication is the process in which both: verbal and non-verbal means of communication interact with different forms of cognition and cognitive systems [1]. A human-being perceives and conceptualizes the world around. He/she makes an attempt to interpret it in different dimensions: emotional, evaluative, perceptional etc. The initial position in the process of interpretation is cognition. Cognitive representations which create in our mind images and events interpret the Observer’s experience [21].

10)  When Obama criticized Romney’s incoherence on various foreign policy matters, Romney whined, “attacking me is not a plan”. It was repeated at least twice, and sounded weak, sorrowful, and pathetic [25].

In perception of V.Z. Demiankov constantly developing cognitive abilities of a human are a part of a cognitive evolution as a whole. Cognition and communication are coordinated with each other [4].

Human consciousness is the psychological process aimed at the interpretation of information arriving into the Observer’s brain from the outside world. But the relevant fact, is that the information may vary, depending on the communicative situation.

11) “She called me Christopher again,” he whined. “Sorry,” Suzanne said… [25]; 

12)  He paused, as if trying to figure out what he was asking about. Why turn the TV off? Why do they kill dogs that way? Why is the world so unfair? He whined again, this time less unselfconscious [25].

The communicative predicate to whine is defined in the English language dictionaries as follows: to complain in an annoying way [29]; if you say that someone is whining, you mean that they are complaining in an annoying way about something unimportant; to utter a peevish, high-pitched, somewhat nasal sound, as in complaint, distress, or fear [26]; complain in a feeble or petulant way [27].

The characteristic components annoying, feeble, petulant are illustrative of irritant behaviour of a speech subject for the Observer. There is also an indication on voice characteristics of a speaker: peevish, high-pitched, nasal. Emotional state of a speech subject can be described as the state of distress, commotion of the spirits or even fear:

13) She began to whine about how hard she had been forced to work [27].

14) “I've been treated very, very badly by The Washington Post,” he whined. "I’ve had stories written about me - by your newspaper and by others - that are so false, that are written with such hatred – I’m not a bad person" [25];

15) “I want to leave now,” she whined» [29].

Altogether, such speech manner can be characterized as a communicative act of complaint.

Prototypically, central, in the most explicit way, this communicative speech act is described by the illocutionary verb to complain. This verb is defined in the English language dictionaries as follows: to say that you are annoyed, not satisfied, or unhappy about something or someone [28]; to say or write that you are unhappy, sick, uncomfortable, etc., or that you do not like something; to say (something that expresses annoyance or unhappiness) [29]. The subject of the complaint speech is characterized by a negative emotional state (annoyed, not satisfied, unhappy, sick, uncomfortable) and attitude to the subject of discussion (annoyance, unhappiness) – the reason for the complaint.

16) Timothy stared back with no sign of the compassion of which I thought embodied him. I saw his hands tremble. “I have been alone, for so long.” he whimpered, tears pooling in his eyes [25].

17) “Why don you make your own lunch?” Tiantian asked another time, starting for Grace’s juice. “My mom told me to tell you to stop,” Grace whimpered [25]. 

The examples illustrate evident complaint of speech act subjects.

The communicative act of complaint is the expression of a certain psychological state [22]. The main purpose of the communicative speech act of the complaint is the intention of the speaker to influence the addressee and receive a response. The negative emotional state of the subject of speech of various motivations is characterized with the help of intonation, which is the dominant mean of verbal expression of emotions combined with a particular speech verb associated in its turn with the sound produced by a speaker. For emotional impact, different illocutionary speech verbs are used. Communicative act of complaint can be used as a means of manipulation, request, reproach, disagreement.

4. Communicative act of threat

In the process of communication, the threat is carried out by delivering speech in the appropriate manner, with the features inherent in this situation: the emotional state of the subjects of communication, the attitude to the addressee of the statement, and the general pragmatic context. This communicative act is interpreted through the word threat: a statement in which you tell someone that you will cause them harm or trouble if they do not do what you want [28]; a statement saying you will be harmed if you do not do what someone wants you to do [29]. Both definitions contain interpretative components, such as harm and trouble.

The Observer-interpreter does not reproduce the speech subject’s utterance on prepared models. He/she constructs and forms it every time with the help of interpretative perception. This construction is based on his/her own perceptions and world images. Every individual chooses peculiar language means to describe, for example, communicative situation of threat. The chosen language means are dependent on Observer’s vision of an outside world. Grice’s presumption of successful communication declares that being a party of a communicative situation, an addressee is able to distinguish speaker’s communicative intentions and arrive to some logical conclusion [16].

18) Not in this case”, the man almost snarled. “Keep away from her” [25];

19) Riley turned his head and snarled. “We’re sheriff's deputies and you're interfering with a criminal apprehension”. [25].

The examples presented illustrate evident threat to an utterance addressee.

20) “I would never let anything happen to Harry Potter, or any other student. I assure you, I have everything well in hand”. “One governor does not overrule the Headmaster”, Hagrid practically snarled [25].  

21)You think as much as college professors, and college professors don’t make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won’t have any money!” “That’s a faulty syllogism”, I said impatiently, and she began to cry. “I'd had enough. I’m going to the library”, I snarled as I stomped out the door [25]

As it can be seen from the presented examples, the Observer can act not just as a third-party – an outside observer, he/she can appear as a communicative party in a speech act (example 21). In this particular case, the Observer acts as an author of a communicative act. The author expressing irritation through the usage of a particular language means – speech verb to snarl.

The purpose of the communicative act of the threat is the desire of the speech subject to influence the course of events, having a verbal effect on the addressee of the statement, and this effect cannot be welcomed by the addressee and implies submission to the intentions of the speech subject. As the famous scientist A. Vezhbitskaya proposed, the communicative act of the threat is being combined with the act of prohibition (I say that, because I don’t want you to do something) [24]. The threat can be expressed both: explicitly and implicitly:

22) My grandmother opened her eyes, only to push the glass away with startling violence, so that the water splashed down her blouse and across the couch. “I'm in my house”, she snarled, “and I’m not going anywhere” [25].

23) “Why the hell would I”? I snarled. “Why would I betray my daughter for your righteous lie?” [25].

In the first example (22) the threat is of a more explicit character then in the second one (23). The woman warns, almost snarls, that she won’t leave her own house, while the second example illustrates implicit threat that a person would have never betrayed his/her daughter even for a righteous lie.

As the studies show, the ways of expressing a threat as such, its locative component can be very diverse, since the main goal for the characterization of a given communicative act is the following goal pursued by the addressee: to introduce the addressee into an unpleasant cognitive-emotional state, to do any harm, to force the addressee to do what the speaker needs.

Communicative predicates to growl and to hiss have an allied meaning: they both can combinatory express prohibition and threat. To growl – to say something in a low angry voice [28]; to say (something) in an angry way; to complain in an angry way [29]. To hiss – to say (something) in a loud or angry whisper [29]; to express a negative view or reaction by uttering a hiss [30]. The distinctive components angry, negative illustrate that the emotional state of the Observe-interpreter of the communicative act is negative and depressive. Voice characteristics (intonation) low and loud vary depending on the communicants’ mood and communicative situation as a whole.

24) “Don't be doing us any favors”, he growled. “We can manage without you” [25].

25) “I asked you a question”, he growled, looking down to make sure Jude’s feet were off the ground [25].

26) “I will warn you just this once”, hissed Karina Stoyanova. “Go” [25].

27) Larry hissed. “Put your belt back on man. Don't make it any easier on them” [25].

Examples (25) and (26) illustrate evident, explicit threat to the participants of the communicative act. While examples (24) and (27) show that communicative predicates to growl and to hiss can also express communicative intention of prohibition.

The use of certain speech acts is motivated by the goals of speakers. The main thing is the desire to achieve a concrete result. Thus, in the communication act of threat/prohibition, the subject of speech intends to influence the addressee in order to obtain what is desired or to make a ban. The subject of the speech expresses a threat to the addressee, with the aim of causing some harm or fear. In speech communication, each statement is perceived as a replica included in a pragmatic context. The speech act, as a holistic speech unit, performed directly in the process of communication under the influence of factors such as the cognitive-affective state of the subjects of the communicative act and the relationship between the participants in the communication process.

5. Results and discussion

The communicative model of the speech act proposed by the theory of speech acts takes into account the speaker, the speech intention pursued by him/her, the statement, the addressee, the circumstances affecting the implementation of the intention, and the result. Speech acts differ in their goals, in the expression/description of the psychological state of communicants, in the propositional content, and, in the strength of the illocutory goal. Describing a speech act performed by another person, the speaker often introduces in his description of speech behavior and utterances one or another interpretation of the implicit intentions of the communicative act subject, his/her psycho-emotional state, relation to the addressee, evaluates both the speech action itself and its content. Linguistic means of describing and interpreting a speech act are primarily speech verbs (to snarl, to hiss, to whimper etc).

In order to interpret the expressive behavior of the speech subject, to identify illocutionary intentions/functions, to interpret the evaluation characteristics concerning the speech subject and the Observer, it is necessary to refer to a wider communicative-pragmatic context.

The sound characteristic of the voice of the speech subject in a communicative act is a key component when considering verbs with perceptual evaluation semantics (speech verbs). S.V. Kodzasov [8] in his article analyzes various ways of conceptualizing and verbalizing sounding speech. The author, in particular, considers those parameters of speech that, in our research paper, are implicated in the semantics of verbs and are found when analyzing dictionary interpretations. S.V. Kodzasov, highlights such vocal characteristics as loud (speech is pronounced in a strong/quiet/loud voice; low/loud voice), tonal (high voice, speak bass/falsetto: high/high-pitched voice), phonation (broken voice), syncretic (thoracic voice, uterine voice, smitten voice: deep voice), characteristic of the general organization of speech (speak piecemeal, smooth speech: snappish, abrupt, curt, in a repetitive manner, etc.), as well as uncontrolled voice characteristics due to various emotional states of the subject of speech.

Such descriptive definitions can be attributed to the so-called objective, parametric characteristics of the voice of speech subject. At the same time, it should be noted that many adjective definitions describing the manner of speaking demonstrate semantic syncretism, undivided voice characteristics to parametric sound and evaluation levels. The number of illocutionary verbs (speech, communicative ones) can hardly be attributed to the group of the closed type - their series are also replenished by the occasional use of non-speech verbs in the function of speech predicates (to hiss). Therefore, communicative (speech) acts expressed by the corresponding verbs are the subject of continuous study, leading to various results.

There are different types of observed, which is interpreted from the position of the Observer-interpreter of a communicative/speech act. There can be defined auditory [15] and visual observed. In the concept of observation of U. Maturana [17], [18], [19], [20] there are two aspects of the observation: external and internal. The sonic Observed can be attributed to the external aspect: the physiological process that characterizes a person as a biological organism: an organism delivering speech in a certain way, the voice characteristics of a communicative subject are subjected to the analysis. While the internal aspect of the observation, due to the cultural and linguistic affiliation of the speech subject, forms individual images and structures of knowledge. The Observer and the Observed are two interrelated components of the observation process. It is the Observer who acts as a subject of affective assessment, organizes and interprets the world around [3].

Cognitive linguistics is one of the most developing branches of modern linguistics. First of all due to its main approach: it studies different cognitive processes in their close interaction with each other. Language, cognition and speech are closely interrelated and must be studied as a single entity. An Observer-interpreter conceptualizes the speech with the help of illocutionary verbs, choosing the most appropriate ones. In the process of conceptualization, he/she is guided by a world image. If a person speaks two languages, he/she’s got two mental spaces, two world images and conceptual fields. It means that his/her inner and outer worlds are much richer than of ordinary people, what leads to a deeper cognitive analysis of any situation. What is relevant within the frameworks of this paper is that cognitive and affective side of communicative process is not less relevant than the verbal one.

6. Conclusion

The challenge for the Observer-interpreter of a speech act is not just to interpret the proposition, but to describe a communicative situation as a whole. It means to give an account of such factors as mood and emotional state of a speech subject, his/her treatment to an addressee. The Observer is a cognitive and affective subject of perception, interpretation and evaluation of facts and events of the outside world.

Cognition and communication must be considered in their constant interaction. They summarize people’s experience, opinions and beliefs. Speech activity is the source of cognition, and therefore communicative act deals directly with the cognitive process.

Being a part of an outside world a human-being, the Observer-interpreter of a communicative act, is the ground zero in the analysis of facts and events of the world around.

Choice of linguistic means for description of communicative situation is mainly dependent on a human-being conceptual system, which in its turn connects auditory perceived information with the knowledge about an experience kept in mind.

The Observer is a living biological and psychological cognitive system, which interacts with the reality (an outside and the interior, physical and psychological). The observer acting as a perceptual-cognitive subject allows you to cover not only automatic, subconscious, unconscious (semi-conscious) sensations, but also acts/processes of perception of the higher cognitive order, including evaluation and affective levels (aspects) of categorization. The Observer appears and exists in a “languaging”, and he/she is unthinkable without and/or outside this process.

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