A Speech Act Analysis of the United Nations Secretary-General's Opening Remarks to the General Assembly Emergency Special Session on Ukraine

Mohammad Awad AlAfnan, Tamara Oshchepkova


This study examines language use as social action. Using Austin’s (1962), Bach’s (2003), and Searle’s (1969) speech act theory and categorizations of constative utterances, performative utterances, illocutionary acts, and perlocutionary acts, this study examines the speech acts used by the UN’s Secretary-General in his opening remarks in the Emergency Special Session on Ukraine. The study likewise examines the intended social actions and the social effects they have on the audience. This study reveals that the UN’s Secretary-General made use of a balance between the usage of utterances that express a belief, intention, and desire (constative utterances) and utterances that carry social actions (performative utterances). This study furthermore reveals that reporting, informing, and announcing are the most popular constative utterances in the speech to provide Security Council members a comprehensive idea about the situation in Ukraine and the possible consequences. The study also affirms that directive and assertive illocutionary acts are the most popular performative utterances used in the speech to achieve the perlocutionary effects of asserting, stating, claiming, concluding, requesting, urging, advising, requiring, and ordering. Speech analysis reveals that the UN’s Security General did not use any declarative illocutionary act as he intended to avoid jumping to conclusions, on the one hand and avoid taking sides, on the other hand.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/smc.v10i2.5662


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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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