Tweet acts and quote-tweetable acts

Synthese 202 (6):1-28 (2023)
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Online communication can often seem different to offline talk. Structural features of social media sites can shape the things we do with words. In this paper, I argue that the practice of ‘quote-tweeting’ can cause a single utterance that originally performed just one speech act to later perform several different speech acts. This describes a new type of illocutionary pluralism—the view that a single utterance can perform multiple illocutionary acts. Not only is this type more plural than others (if one utterance can acquire many kinds of illocutionary force), but it also shows how illocutionary forces can be accumulated over time. This is not limited to online utterances—some offline contexts are similarly structured, and so offline utterances can also come to perform many different speech acts.

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Chris Cousens
University of Stirling


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