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  • 1 Hungarian Academy of Sciences Research Centre for Multilingualism, Research Institute for Linguistics Benczúr u. 33 H-1068 Budapest Hungary
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The paper discusses the role of attention in speech acts from a social cognitive pragmatic perspective. Attention is fundamental in several aspects of language use and also plays a pivotal role in the processing of utterance functions (especially ‘illocutionary force’). Through construal operations, the illocutionary force of an utterance can be brought to the listener’s attention in various ways: it can be salient to varying degrees, clear or unclear, foregrounded or backgrounded, according to the speaker’s communicative and social aims. Attention management concerning illocutionary force may simultaneously affect several components of an utterance, yielding ‘attention alternatives’ in speech acts. The paper attempts to give an overview—based on the examples analysed here and on the relevant literature—of the most important dimensions along which these alternatives may vary. Finally, some examples from a political debate are presented to illustrate how attention management related to illocutionary force can serve the speaker’s social and interactional aims and become part of his global impression-making strategies.

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