As noted above, diplomatists attribute a special 'probative' status to a record that offers a formalised report of a completed transaction. From the perspective of speech act theory, however, such a record simply represents an assertive speech act, albeit one to which legal systems may accord particular recognition (Searle, 1995, p. 85).8 When we find weight attributed to a record that asserts a proposition, we may detect a paradox. On the one hand, scholars doubt whether propositions are ever objective; on the other hand, legal systems acknowledge that a record asserting that a specific transaction has occurred can provide litigants with strong evidence, which may help them prove their rights in court. It seems reasonable to conclude that, whatever our view of the objectivity of a proposition, we should not consider its assertion ineffectual. When we examine the making of 'changes in the world' by means of speech acts, we may affirm that 'every language act has consequences' (Winograd Flores, 1986, p. 59); even an assertive act can achieve results that would have been impossible if the assertion had not been promulgated. Speech acts and genres Several scholars have drawn parallels between speech act philosophy and genre theory, which some archivists have recently heralded as offering a new theoretical framework for investigating records and their modes of creation (Foscarini, 2013, unpaginated; 2014, pp. 6, 23; Oliver, 2017, p. 95). According to American scholar Charles Bazerman (2012, p. 383), genres are 'typified forms of utterances'. While each individual speech act is unique, communicative activity depends on our ability to invoke stabilised types of utterance. In Bazerman's words, speech acts are carried out 'in patterned textual forms or genres, which are related to other texts and genres that occur in related circumstances' (2004, p. 311). The recognition (in taxonomies such as Searle's) that speech acts can be categorised into types is paralleled in what Bazerman called the 'typification' of genres, such as business letters, reports, order forms, and contracts. Genre theorists have argued that each genre corresponds to a particular type of social activity (Gardiner, 1992, p. 81) and is used in response to specific recurrent situations (Yates Orlikowski, 1992, p. 301). Connections between genre theory and speech act theory are often associated with ideas about 'speech genres' put forward by Russian scholar Mikhail Bakhtin and his circle in the mid 20th century. Bakhtin's work, which remained unpublished for many years after he composed it, does not use the term 'speech acts', but it displays many of the same beliefs about language that characterise speech act theory. Like speech act philosophers, Bakhtin distinguished utterances from sentences (1986, p. 73) and insisted that 'the real unit of communication' is the utterance (1986, p. 71). He argued that utterances cannot be regarded as unfettered forms of communication, but are determined by the spheres of activity in which language is used (1986, pp. 60-64, 81). Later critics have seen Bakhtin as a precursor of the newer literature on speech acts and genres (Wierzbicka, 2003, p. 457). Other genre theorists have implicitly or explicitly made use of Bakhtin's work when proposing that 'all genres stem from speech acts' (Todorov, 1990, p. 19) or that 'acts of speech fall into genres' (Currie, 2004, p. 54; see also Bazerman, 2004, p. 309 et seq.; Post, 2013, p. 31 et seq.). Nevertheless, although some scholars have argued that genres should be treated 'in the same way as speech acts' (Wierzbicka, 2003, p. 149), or have used speech act theory to establish categories in a 'genre taxonomy' (Yoshioka, Herman, Yates, Orlikowski, 2001, p. 435), it would be wrong to assume that genre categories and speech-act categories are identical. While some genres of written text, such as summonses, affidavits, or declarations of war, appear to correspond to single speech acts, most are more complex. An order for the purchase of goods can be expected to include both a (directive) request for the goods to be supplied and a (commissive) undertaking to pay for them. A typical business letter contains numerous assertive and directive speech acts, and may also include commissive, expressive, and even declarative acts. Many instances of other genres, such as office memos and email messages, comprise multiple speech acts.9 Although archival scholars whose work is inspired by ideas about genre have rarely discussed the theory of speech acts, it seems very relevant to their endeavours. In particular, there is an obvious affinity between understanding records through the lens of speech act theory and Fiorella Foscarini's projected reconceptualisation of records as 'social action', which derives its intellectual basis, not from Reinach or Reid, but from the North American school of rhetorical genre studies. While recognising that the world shapes the form and function of records, concepts from speech act theory can also elucidate how 'records organize our world' (Foscarini, 2013, unpaginated). Contexts Speech acts - or 'social acts', if we prefer - are always performed in contexts. As we have seen, they operate through representation and communication; communicating certain written marks or sounds counts as asserting a proposition, issuing an order, making a promise, or entering into an agreement. When this is achieved by means of written marks, the persistence of writing enables the survival of a record of the action that has been performed. But speech act philosophers have noted that communicating such marks may not count as performing an action if the circumstances are inappropriate; for example, the words of a promise or a tax demand set out in a novel do not effect a commitment or an obligation to pay. Searle (1995, pp. 54-55) proposed an explanatory formula: 'X counts as Y in context C'. The context must be suitable if the marks are to count as performing a social act. Tax demands issued by someone entitled to issue them, or the words of written promises expressed on apposite occasions, perform acts of the kind that speech act theory identifies. Furthermore, every context has contexts of its own. The particular context in which a social act is performed - and in which a record is created - forms part of a archives in liquid times 8 Connections between speech act philosophy and diplomatic scholarship have also been examined by Pekka Henttonen (2007), but Henttonen was uninclined to challenge diplomatists' law-centred worldview, and his conclusions are rather different from those proposed here. 100 geoffrey yeo information, records, and the philosophy of speech acts 9 Nevertheless, as Bazerman (2004, p. 320) noted, complex texts often have a single dominant action that seemingly defines their intent or purpose. A charter, for example, is likely to include a number of expressive, assertive, and directive speech acts, but these are usually seen as secondary to the declarative (or, in diplomatic terminology, dispositive) act that forms the charter's centrepiece; philosopher Daniel Vanderveken (2001, p. 25 5) called this a 'master' speech act. 101

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