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Definition:

In linguistics, a unit of speech.

In phonetic terms, a stretch of spoken language that is preceded by silence and followed by silence or a change of speaker. (Phonemes, morphemes, and words are all considered "segments" of the stream of speech sounds that constitute an utterance.)

In orthographic terms, a syntactic unit that begins with a capital letter and ends in a period, question mark, or exclamation point.

See also:

Etymology:

From the Middle English, "outward, make known"

Examples and Observations:

  • "We use the term 'utterance' to refer to complete communicative units, which may consist of single words, phrases, clauses and clause combinations spoken in context, in contrast to the term 'sentence,' which we reserve for units consisting of at least one main clause and any accompanying subordinate clauses, and marked by punctuation (capital letters and full stops) in writing."
    (Ronald Carter and Michael McCarthy, Cambridge Grammar of English. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006)


  • "For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
    Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
    To stir men's blood: I only speak right on."
    (Mark Antony in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Act 3, scene 2)


  • "[T]he problem of meaning can be posed as follows: How does the mind impose Intentionality on entities that are not intrinsically Intentional, on entities such as sounds and marks that are, construed in one way, just physical phenomena in the world like any other? An utterance can have Intentionality, just as a belief has Intentionality, but whereas the Intentionality of the belief is intrinsic the Intentionality of the utterance is derived. The question then is: How does it derive its Intentionality?"
    (John R. Searle, Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1983)
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