This article reads John L. Austin rhetorically and achieves two things thereby. First, it grasps the tensions subtending Austin's speech-act theory. These tensions arguably stem from Austin's distinct engagements with his brief to consider how saying something is to do something. Second, this article assesses the usefulness of Austin's notion of perlocution to the description of discursive events. I take such description to be a concern of the interpretive humanities in general and of rhetoric in particular. To gauge perlocution's utility, I compare its descriptive purchase with that of illocution, signaling some productive affinities between Austin and the purposive, processual conception of semiosis developed by Charles S. Peirce.

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