The Authority of the Spoken Word: Speech Acts in Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

Abstract

This article begins by noting Mark Twain’s decision to invest in the Paige typesetting machine rather than Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, and then goes on to examine the main protagonist Hank Morgan’s successful use of both technologies as he faces life-threatening challenges after being transported to King Arthur’s sixth-century England. Morgan also proves a masterful performer of “speech acts,” strategies that effect changes in the people and circumstances that surround him. His “illocutionary” and “perlocutionary” acts enable him time and again to survive to tell his story.

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