CMC Act Taxonomy

This is a classification scheme developed in 2005 by Susan C. Herring, Anupam Das, and Shashikant Penumarthy for coding "speech" acts in computer-mediated discourse. If you use it, please cite the source as: Herring, S. C., Das, A., & Penumarthy, S. (2005). CMC act taxonomy.

The 16 acts in the taxonomy are presented in the following format:

ACT LABEL (Explanation) Related terms from other taxonomies**

    * Example

** Bach, K., & R. M. Harnish (1979). Linguistic Communication and Speech Acts. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; Francis, G. & S. Hunston (1992). Analysing everyday conversation. In M. Coulthard (Ed.), Advances in Spoken Discourse Analysis (pp. 1-34). London: Routledge.

INQUIRE (Seek information) Inquiry, Neutral/Marked Proposal

    * How long does it take?

REQUEST (Seek action politely) Direct or Indirect Request

    * Can you help me find it?

DIRECT (Attempt to cause action) Require, Prohibit, Permit, Strongly advise

    * Cool down.

INVITE (Seek participation/acceptance by the Addressee) Solicit input, Include, Suggest, Offer (Provide goods or opportunity)

    * Lets go outside

INFORM (Provide "factual" information; verifiable in principle, even if untrue) Inform, State

    * The capital of India is New Delhi.

CLAIM (Make a subjective assertion; unverifiable in principle) Assert, Guess, Speculate

    * I love pizza!

DESIRE (A cover term including three categories of irrealis situation) Desire, need (desiderative); hope, wish, dream, speculate (hypothetical, counterfactual); promise (future action)

    * I wish I could go with you.

ELABORATE Comment on, Explain, Paraphrase a previous utterance (usually one's own)

    * (I can't fake ill…) mum's a teacher

ACCEPT Concur, Agree, Acquiesce

    * Yes, I agree.

REJECT Disagree, Dispute, Challenge

    * No you can't!

REACT (Show listenership, engagement – positive, negative, or neutral) Endorse, Approve

    * Cool!!
    * Eww, ick!

REPAIR Return, Clarify, Correct Misunderstanding

    * Did you mean "school holiday"?

APOLOGIZE Humble onself, Self-deprecate

    * Oops my fault :(

THANK Appreciate, Express Gratitude

    * thxs for showing me / you're welcome

GREET Greeting, Leave Taking, Inquiries about/wishes for well-being

    * Hi roley!! / How r u?

MANAGE (Manage discourse) Organize, prompt, focus, open or close discussion, preamble, etc.

    * OK let's get started.

In addition, each utterance can be coded for two meta-act categories:

•    Self-perspective vs. reported perspective

     * The president said that he wants to bring democracy to the Middle East. (reported perspective)

Self-perspective is the default in speech act analysis; the acts produced are presumed to represent the perspective of the utterance producer. In the case of reported acts, the reported act (embedded utterance) itself will often be most relevant for act analysis, in which case the act code is assigned to it, rather than to the matrix (embedding) clause. Thus the above example would be coded as DESIRE [reported].

•    Bona fide vs. non-bona fide communication

     * He's such a genius I can't stand it. (non-bona fide [sarcasm])

Bona fide communication is the default in speech act analysis; that is, the utterance producer is presumed to be producing acts sincerely and in good faith. Examples of non-bona fide communication include lies, irony, sarcasm, and humor. We code non-bona fide utterances as if they were sincere, but add a code that indicates that the utterance is non-bona fide. Thus the above example might be coded (depending on the previous discourse context) as CLAIM [non-bona fide].

Please direct any questions or feedback regarding this act taxonomy to Susan Herring at herring @

Last updated August 2, 2007