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PRAGMATICS AND SLA
Gabriele Kasper and Kenneth R. Rose
Pragmatics has two roles in SLA: It acts as a constraint on linguistic forms and their acquisition, and it represents a type of communicative knowledge and object of L2 learning in its own right. The first role of pragmatics is evident in functionalist (Tomlin 1990) and interactionist (Long 1996) views of SLA. The second role puts pragmatics on a par with morphosyntax, lexis, and phonology in that inquiry focuses on learners’ knowledge, use, and acquisition of L2 pragmatics.
It is the latter sense of ‘pragmatics and SLA’ that is the focus of this paper. In analogy with other areas of specialization within SLA—interlanguage syntax, interlanguage lexis, and so forth—the study of nonnative speakers’ use and acquisition of L2 pragmatic knowledge is referred to as interlanguage pragmatics.
A substantial body of research on interlanguage pragmatics now exists (see
Ellis 1994, Kasper 1998), but the great majority of studies focuses on L2 use rather than development. Topics investigated in these studies include the following:
1. The perception and comprehension of illocutionary force and politeness;
2. The production of linguistic action;
3. The impact of context variables on choices of conventions of means
(semantic formulae or realization strategies) and form (linguistic material used to implement strategic options);
4. Discourse sequencing and conversational management;
5. Pragmatic success and failure;
6. The joint negotiation of illocutionary, referential, and relational goals in interpersonal encounters and institutional settings.
These topics have been borrowed from studies of native speakers’ linguistic actions and interactions, conducted mostly in the disciplinary traditions of empirical pragmatics, especially studies of