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Abstract

The idea that illocutionary-act-potential (IAP) is the key to linguistic meaning is still in a rather undeveloped state. Since I introduced the suggestion in the early sixties it has not received much elaboration. To be sure, it is the conception of sentence-meaning put forward in John Searle's book Speech Acts,2 but although Searle in that book has many interesting things to say on many topics, he does not measurably advance the development of an account of linguistic meaning in terms of illocutionary acts. (I also have many reservations about the details of his treatment.)

I am currently engaged in writing a book in which I work out a detailed and systematic account of illocutionary acts, and show how sentence meaning (SM) can be identified with IAP. Since the meaning of morphemes, words, and phrases can be viewed as their capacity to make a distinctive contribution to the meanings of sentences in which they occur, this account of sentence meaning can serve as the basis of a general account of the nature of linguistic meaning. In this paper I will present some leading ideas of this account of sentence-meaning, and exhibit some of the relations of my account to other positions in the field. Needless to say, many details will have to be omitted.

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