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Constructing witches and spells: speech acts and activity types in early modern England.

Culpeper, Jonathan and Semino, Elena (2000) Constructing witches and spells: speech acts and activity types in early modern England. Journal of Historical Pragmatics, 1 (1). pp. 97-116. ISSN 1566-5852

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Abstract

In this paper, we highlight the centrality of verbs relating to verbal activities in witchcraft narratives in the Early Modern English period, and focus on speech act verbs used to refer to witches' curses. In the first part, we refer to various classifications of speech act verbs and to Searle's felicity conditions for speech acts, in order to describe the different meanings of verbs such as to curse, and to show how their central meaning has shifted over time. In the second part, we show how the speech act verbs form a structured set, which — in appropriate circumstances — could be used as an interpretative frame to create witchcraft events out of relatively trivial arguments within village communities. Here, we refer to Levinson's notion of activity types as a possible explanatory framework.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Historical Pragmatics
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Linguistics & English Language
ID Code: 1051
Deposited By: Dr Jonathan Culpeper
Deposited On: 29 Jan 2008 15:29
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2013 10:52
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/1051

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