Pragmatic failure is the inability to understand what is meant by what is said. It refers to the errors in our speech communication because of failing to accomplish a perfect communicative effect. In 1983, a British linguist Thomas came up with the pragmatic failure. In his opinion, pragmatic failure is not simply the wrong use of language, namely, grammatical mistakes, occurred in common usage, using words or making sentences but it refers to inappropriate speaking, improper manner of speaking and expressions not conforming to the custom, which results in not being able to achieve the expected effect. This is a profound analysis of the essence of pragmatic failure. Although the speaker uses sentences which are grammatically correct, the unconsciously violate the norms of interpersonal relationships and social norms in speech, or take no notice of time, hearer and context. Pragmatic competence (the ability to use language effectively in order to achieve a specific purpose and to understand language in context) can be divided into two parts---pragma-linguistic competence and sociopragmatic competence. When talking about pragma-linguistic competence, it not only includes the competence of using grammar rules to make sentences correctly, but also the competence of using the language to communicate successfully in a certain situation, while sociopragmatic competence means to communicate properly according to the social rules of a language. Poor pragmatic competence will cause pragmatic failure. After Thomas, other scholars also made research into pragmatic failure. Some principles and theories they have formed, such as speech act theory, the theory of conversational implicature, relevance theory, the politeness principle, the cooperative principle etc, which provided a basis for our study on the pragmatic failure. Generally speaking, According to British linguist Thomas’s opinion, English pragmatic failure can be divided into two categories: One is pragmalinguistic failure, which is caused by speech impediment (improper diction or misunderstanding,etc.). The other is sociopragmatic failure, which mainly refers to those failure caused by not understanding the cultural differences between each other and influencing the choice of language form. pragmalinguistic failures
pragmalinguistic failure is closely linked with language itself, referring to the case that learners unconsciously transfer native expression into English ignoring their pragmatic meaning, or use other inappropriate expressions of the target language. we often see pragmalinguistic failures in our daily lives, such as disobeying the normal way that a language is used, using the Chinese-English, the pragmatically inappropriate transfer of semantically equivalent structures, understanding the literal meaning of a sentence without knowing the real meaning, ignoring that a whole sentence may have some special meaning in a given situation and without considering the scene and the listener. The follow are some examples: 1、Disobeying the normal way that a language is used
Some students are too familiar with the Chinese way of express one’s thinking, so they often use the improper expression. For example, A: Thanks a lot. That’s a great help.
B: Never mind.
We say “Never mind” when someone say “Sorry” to you but not “Thank you.” And the correct expression here is “You’re welcome.” 2、Using the Chinese-English
Using the Chinese-English is a big problem for Chinese students. It is a common phenomenon with the ones who has just started to learn a foreign. For example, as a shop assistant, you should say “Can I help you?” but not “What would you want?” Some students may even use “good good study, day day up” in their compositions. 3、The pragmatically inappropriate transfer of semantically equivalent structures Some expressions seem quite right according to the sentence structure and...
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