The Pragmatic Aspects of the Sentence

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The Pragmatic Aspects of the Sentence

By | May 2013
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Introduction

Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics which studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, conversational implicature, talk in interaction and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, linguistics and anthropology. Unlike semantics, which examines meaning that is conventional or "coded" in a given language, pragmatics studies how the transmission of meaning depends not only on structural and linguistic knowledge (e.g., grammar, lexicon, etc.) of the speaker and listener, but also on the context of the utterance, any preexisting knowledge about those involved, and other factors. In this respect, pragmatics explains how language users are able to overcome apparent ambiguity, since meaning relies on the manner, place, time etc. of an utterance. In pragmatics, an utterance is most often taken to be a linguistic action performed by a certain speaker in a certain place at a certain moment. The problem of pragmatics is not new. A significant contribution to the study was made by such scientists as Austin, Morris, Wezhbicka, Grice, Goffmann and others.

The pragmatic aspect of the sentence

In 1938 Charles Morris published Foundation of the Theory of Signs. He distinguished there three areas of logical investigation: syntax, semantics and pragmatics. This book is commonly recognized as the starting point of investigation into the area of pragmatics. As a matter of fact, Morris' book did not make any contribution to pragmatics but rather described problems of the understanding language which cannot be handled by semantic methods. He also explicitly indicated the need to solve them in another way. Concrete research began in the fifties. Levinson contains a review of the linguistic approach to pragmatics; however, an adequate monograph presenting the logical contributions to the area is still lacking. Since then the main results in the area have been...

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