Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Relating to or being an utterance that asserts or states something that can be judged as true or false, such as The cat is on the mat.
  • n. A constative utterance, such as an assertion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Pertaining to an utterance relaying information and likely to be regarded as true or false.

Etymologies

New Latin cōnstatīvus (translation of German konstatierend, present participle of konstatieren, to indicate as factual), from Latin cōnstāre, to stand firm, be fixed (influenced by third person sg. present tense cōnstat, it is manifest, it is a fact, and statīvus, stationary); see constant.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • This seems like a simple statement, what the linguistic philosopher J.L. Austin termed a constative utterance: a base level of communication, with no metaphor or secondary meanings attached.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XVIII No 2

  • Assertion, by contrast, is the paradigm of a constative utterance.

    Him

  • Austin had earlier (1956) initiated the development of speech act taxonomy by means of the distinction between constative and performative utterances.

    Him

  • However, when developing his general theory of speech acts, Austin abandoned the constative/performative distinction, the reason being that it is not so clear in what sense something is done e.g. by means of an optative utterance, expressing a wish, whereas nothing is done by means of an assertoric one.

    Him

  • Yet precisely because it is neither simply prescriptive nor descriptive, neither purely constative nor performative, heil risks rendering the

    Patriot Acts: The Political Language of Henrich von Kleist

  • As inhabitants of modernity we might, however, first and foremost associate the “lost one” of patriotic melancholy with the nation state, that which paradoxically can never be lost, if patriotism has any constative or performative value to it.

    Introduction

  • At stake in this description is the very interruption of cognitive and performative language that de Man explains will emerge in the book itself — i.e., the interruption of the difference between a book about romanticism (cognitive, constative) and a book of romanticism and its disruption

    'At the Far End of this Ongoing Enterprise...'

  • All texts are events, even when largely constative.

    History against Historicism, Formal Matters, and the Event of the Text: De Man with Benjamin

  • In linguistic terms, these two poles are aligned with the constative and the performative, the latter being not quite identical with the expressive, since that category assumes a certain interiority which is not requisite for the performative.

    Subjecticity (On Kant and the Texture of Romanticism)

  • (Austin presents the distinction between performative and constative utterances.)

    Pragmatics

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