pragmatics

Topics: Linguistics, Semantics, Pragmatics Pages: 41 (9709 words) Published: May 4, 2014
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Contents
Preface

vii

1

1
4
10
13

Introduction
1.1 Types of pragmatics
1.2 Pragmatics and linguistics
1.3 Structure of the book

2 Semantics and Pragmatics
2.1 The borderline
2.2 Sentences and utterances
2.3 Language and logic
2.4 Mood
2.5 The explicit and the implicit
2.6 Presupposition
2.7 Deixis

19
19
21
23
27
29
32
39

3

History of Pragmatics
3.1 Structuralism
3.2 Logical positivism
3.3 Ordinary language philosophy
3.4 The beginnings of pragmatics

44
44
47
49
52

4

‘Classical’ Pragmatics
4.1 Speech act theory
4.2 Implicature

56
57
68

5 Modern Pragmatics
5.1 Neo-Gricean pragmatics
5.2 Relevance theory
5.3 Semantic autonomy and pragmatic intrusion

89
90
102
117

6 Applications of Pragmatics
6.1 Politeness
6.2 Literature
6.3 Language acquisition
6.4 Clinical linguistics
6.5 Experimental pragmatics

131
132
141
149
157
164

7 Pragmatics and Language in Context
7.1 Conversation analysis
7.2 Discourse analysis

176
177
181
v

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vi

CONTENTS

7.3 Sociolinguistics
7.4 Corpus linguistics

184
187

Glossary

191

Bibliography

197

Index

211

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Introduction

1

Some statements about pragmatics are easy to make and are not likely to prove too controversial. Pragmatics is one component of the study of human language, and can therefore be described as a branch of the academic discipline of linguistics. It has emerged relatively recently, certainly within the last half century, but is now an important and thriving area that continues to expand and develop. Concepts, theories and approaches developed within pragmatics are being used by those working in many other areas: both in other branches of linguistics, such as sociolinguistics, stylistics and psycholinguistics, and in different disciplines, such as artificial intelligence, clinical psychology and even law.

Once we get beyond such general statements, however, we get into more disputed territory. More precise and specific statements about pragmatics tend to be prefaced with comments such as ‘some linguists argue that ... ’ and ‘it could be said that ... ’. Perhaps surprisingly, this includes definitions of what pragmatics actually is. In other words, pragmaticists (the term generally applied to those working in the field) don’t all have the same ideas about what they are studying. Everyone agrees that pragmatics is concerned with the study of meaning. But beyond that there are a lot of different possible ways of defining precisely what aspects and types of meaning are the particular subject matter of pragmatics. Quite a good short description, one that is useful for explaining to people what you are studying and that steers clear of many of the major controversies, is that it is concerned with ‘meaning in context’. However, as you read around the subject you will come across definitions that range from the informal (‘it’s about what people mean rather than what they say’) through the more precise (‘it concerns meaning in use rather than literal meaning’) to the highly technical (‘it is the study of meaning minus truth conditions’). There are two main reasons why pragmatics currently accommodates such varied and diverse definitions. The first is simply that it is itself a varied and diverse field of study, which covers many aspects of the relationship between meaning and context. There is, as we will see, something to be said in favour of all the definitions suggested above, as well as others that you may come across, even if none of them in isolation tells the whole story. The second 1

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INTRODUCTION

reason for all the different definitions is that the various models, theories and schools of thought that make up pragmatics each have different ideas about what are the appropriate terms of the discussion. For instance, not all pragmaticists would agree that ‘literal meaning’, a concept that is central to one of the...
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