What Kind of Speech Act is Interpretation?

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After distinguishing the speech act of interpretation from the mental act of interpretation and from interpretation in an artistic medium, this paper considers the place of interpreting in the speech-act taxonomies proposed by Austin and Searle, and compares interpreting to describing, explaining, diagnosing, and related speech acts. Several different kinds of textual interpretation are distinguished, chiefly in terms of their truth-values. The activity of the ancient interpres (broker, mediator) is proposed as a model for literary interpretation.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-281
Number of pages19
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jun 1981


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