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In linguistics and related fields, pragmatics is the study of how context contributes to meaning. The field of study evaluates how human language is utilized in social interactions, as well as the relationship between the interpreter and the interpreted.[1] Linguists who specialize in pragmatics are called pragmaticians. The field has been represented since 1986 by the International Pragmatics Association (IPrA).


Pragmatics encompasses phenomena including implicature, speech acts, relevance and conversation,[2] as well as nonverbal communication. Theories of pragmatics go hand-in-hand with theories of semantics, which studies aspects of meaning, and syntax which examines sentence structures, principles, and relationships. The ability to understand another speaker's intended meaning is called pragmatic competence.[3][4][5] Pragmatics emerged as its own subfield in the 1950s after the pioneering work of J.L. Austin and Paul Grice.[6][7]

Pragmatics was a reaction to structuralist linguistics as outlined by Ferdinand de Saussure. In many cases, it expanded upon his idea that language has an analyzable structure, composed of parts that can be defined in relation to others. Pragmatics first engaged only in synchronic study, as opposed to examining the historical development of language. However, it rejected the notion that all meaning comes from signs existing purely in the abstract space of langue. Meanwhile, historical pragmatics has also come into being. The field did not gain linguists' attention until the 1970s, when two different schools emerged: the Anglo-American pragmatic thought and the European continental pragmatic thought (also called the perspective view).[8]

The relationship between the two gives the sign meaning. The relationship can be explained further by considering what we mean by "meaning." In pragmatics, there are two different types of meaning to consider: semantic-referential meaning and indexical meaning. [17] Semantic-referential meaning refers to the aspect of meaning, which describes events in the world that are independent of the circumstance they are uttered in. An example would be propositions such as:

Referring to things and people is a common feature of conversation, and conversants do so collaboratively. Individuals engaging in discourse utilize pragmatics.[19] In addition, individuals within the scope of discourse cannot help but avoid intuitive use of certain utterances or word choices in an effort to create communicative success.[19] The study of referential language is heavily focused upon definite descriptions and referent accessibility. Theories have been presented for why direct referent descriptions occur in discourse.[20] (In layman's terms: why reiteration of certain names, places, or individuals involved or as a topic of the conversation at hand are repeated more than one would think necessary.) Four factors are widely accepted for the use of referent language including (i) competition with a possible referent, (ii) salience of the referent in the context of discussion (iii) an effort for unity of the parties involved, and finally, (iv) a blatant presence of distance from the last referent.[19]

There is considerable overlap between pragmatics and sociolinguistics, since both share an interest in linguistic meaning as determined by usage in a speech community. However, sociolinguists tend to be more interested in variations in language within such communities. Influences of philosophy and politics are also present in the field of pragmatics, as the dynamics of societies and oppression are expressed through language [24]

Pragmatics helps anthropologists relate elements of language to broader social phenomena; it thus pervades the field of linguistic anthropology. Because pragmatics describes generally the forces in play for a given utterance, it includes the study of power, gender, race, identity, and their interactions with individual speech acts. For example, the study of code switching directly relates to pragmatics, since a switch in code effects a shift in pragmatic force.[23]

According to Charles W. Morris, pragmatics tries to understand the relationship between signs and their users, while semantics tends to focus on the actual objects or ideas to which a word refers, and syntax (or "syntactics") examines relationships among signs or symbols. Semantics is the literal meaning of an idea whereas pragmatics is the implied meaning of the given idea.

Speech Act Theory, pioneered by J.L. Austin and further developed by John Searle, centers around the idea of the performative, a type of utterance that performs the very action it describes. Speech Act Theory's examination of Illocutionary Acts has many of the same goals as pragmatics, as outlined above.

Computational Pragmatics, as defined by Victoria Fromkin, concerns how humans can communicate their intentions to computers with as little ambiguity as possible.[25] That process, integral to the science of natural language processing (seen as a sub-discipline of artificial intelligence), involves providing a computer system with some database of knowledge related to a topic and a series of algorithms, which control how the system responds to incoming data, using contextual knowledge to more accurately approximate natural human language and information processing abilities. Reference resolution, how a computer determines when two objects are different or not, is one of the most important tasks of computational pragmatics.

There has been a great amount of discussion on the boundary between semantics and pragmatics [26] and there are many different formalizations of aspects of pragmatics linked to context dependence. Particularly interesting cases are the discussions on the semantics of indexicals and the problem of referential descriptions, a topic developed after the theories of Keith Donnellan.[27] A proper logical theory of formal pragmatics has been developed by Carlo Dalla Pozza, according to which it is possible to connect classical semantics (treating propositional contents as true or false) and intuitionistic semantics (dealing with illocutionary forces). The presentation of a formal treatment of pragmatics appears to be a development of the Fregean idea of assertion sign as formal sign of the act of assertion.

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari discuss linguistic pragmatics in the fourth chapter of A Thousand Plateaus ("November 20, 1923--Postulates of Linguistics"). They draw three conclusions from Austin: (1) A performative utterance does not communicate information about an act second-hand, but it is the act; (2) Every aspect of language ("semantics, syntactics, or even phonematics") functionally interacts with pragmatics; (3) There is no distinction between language and speech. This last conclusion attempts to refute Saussure's division between langue and parole and Chomsky's distinction between deep structure and surface structure simultaneously.[28]

The present study aims to find empirical evidence of deficits in linguistic pragmatic skills and theory of mind (ToM) in children with dyslexia with associated language difficulties or nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD), when compared with a group of typically developing (TD) children matched for age and gender. Our results indicate that children with dyslexia perform less well than TD children in most of the tasks measuring pragmatics of language, and in one of the tasks measuring ToM. In contrast, children with NLD generally performed better than the dyslexia group, and performed significantly worse than the TD children only in a metaphors task based on visual stimuli. A discriminant function analysis confirmed the crucial role of the metaphors subtest and the verbal ToM task in distinguishing between the groups. We concluded that, contrary to a generally-held assumption, children with dyslexia and associated language difficulties may be weaker than children with NLD in linguistic pragmatics and ToM, especially when language is crucially involved. The educational and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

ObjectiveIntercultural Pragmatics is a fully peer-reviewed forum for theoretical and applied pragmatics research. The goal of the journal is to promote the development and understanding of pragmatic theory and intercultural competence by publishing research that focuses on general theoretical issues, more than one language and culture, or varieties of one language.

The intercultural perspective is relevant not only to each line of research within pragmatics but also extends to several other disciplines such as anthropology, theoretical and applied linguistics, psychology, communication, sociolinguistics, second language acquisition, and bi- and multilingualism. Intercultural Pragmatics makes a special effort to cross disciplinary boundaries.

Intercultural Pragmatics has always encouraged the publication of theoretical papers including linguistic and philosophical pragmatics that are very important for research in intercultural pragmatics. As a result of this endeavor "Thematic Issue: Pragmatics and Philosophy" (TIPP) has been created. This new issue (from 2018) collects the very best submissions on the topic each year under the editorship of Professor Alessandro Capone (University of Messina, Italy) who will work together with Istvan Kecskes, the Editor-in-Chief to ensure that TIPP publishes innovative and intriguing scholarship in the field.

This review adopts a speech act perspective. Although it is not the only way of viewing pragmatics, speech act research has been well represented in crosscultural and interlanguage pragmatics research, and provides a common analytic framework which facilitates comparison across studies.

Social communication allows individuals to communicate or interact with others within a societal framework. Social communication encompasses social interaction, social cognition, pragmatics, and language processing. Variations for societal norms exist across and within cultures. Analysis of social communication considers the norms that are relevant to an individual in their communication environment(s) as opposed to imposing a singular set of standard social norms. 041b061a72


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