Disaster Information from the Viewpoint of Speech Act Theory

Katsuya Yamori


From the viewpoint of speech act theory, this paper discusses and proposes a solution to recent practical problems pertaining to disaster information. An essential concept in speech act theory is the distinction between constative and performative utterances. A constative utterance (e.g., typhoon intensity), describes the outer world as a normative standard into which the utterance fits. Oppositely, a performative utterance (e.g., evacuation directives/advisories) describes what is required to bring the outer world to fit into the utterance. For disaster damage reduction, it is critical to make performative utterances more effective and persuasive, however, recent research and practice have focused more on improving the accuracy of contrastive disaster information. Research along these lines has yet to overcome major social problems related to disaster information. Declarative utterances (e.g., evacuation declaration procedure) are a third type of utterance: They bridge constative and performative utterances and can serve as a key to solving problems.


disaster information; speech act theory; constative utterance; performative utterance; declarative utterance; evacuation directive/advisory

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