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Pragmatics is a branch of linguistics concerned with the use of language in social contexts and the ways in which people produce and comprehend meanings through language. It is a subfield of linguistics and semiotics 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. The term pragmatics was coined in the 1930s by the philosopher C.W. Morris. Pragmatics was developed as a subfield of linguistics in the 1970s. 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 pre-existing knowledge about those involved, the inferred intent of the speaker, 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. The ability to understand another speaker's intended meaning is called pragmatic competence.
Pragmatists focus on what is not explicitly stated and on how we interpret utterances in situational contexts. They are concerned not so much with the sense of what is said as with its force, that is, with what is communicated by the manner and style of an utterance. Although pragmatics is a relatively new branch of linguistics, research on it can be dated back to ancient Greece and Rome where the term pragmaticus’ is found in late Latin and pragmaticos in Greek, both meaning of being practical’. The pragmatic principles people abide by in one language are often different in another. Thus there has been a growing interest in how people in different languages observe a certain pragmatic principle. Cross-linguistic and cross-cultural studies reported what is considered polite in one language is sometimes not polite in another. Contrastive pragmatics, however, is not confined to the study of a certain pragmatic principles. Cultural breakdowns, pragmatic failure, among other things, are also components of cross-cultural pragmatics. Another focus of research in pragmatics is learner language or interlanguage. This interest eventually evolved into interlanguage pragmatics, a branch of pragmatics which specifically discusses how non-native speakers comprehend and produce a speech act in a target language and how their pragmatic competence develops over time.
The impact of pragmatics has been colossal and multifaceted. The study of speech acts, for instance, provided illuminating explanation into sociolinguistic conduct. The findings of the cooperative principle and politeness principle also provided insights into person-to-person interactions. The choice of different linguistic means for a communicative act and the various interpretations for the same speech act elucidate human mentality in the relevance principle which contributes to the study of communication in particular and cognition in general. Implications of pragmatic studies are also evident in language teaching practices. Deixis, for instance, is important in the teaching of reading. Speech acts are often helpful for improving translation and writing. Pragmatic principles are also finding their way into the study of literary works as well as language teaching classrooms.
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Associations of Pragmatics
• The American Pragmatics Association
• International Pragmatics Association
• Pragmatic Society of Japan
• Federal Government Distance Learning Association
• China Pragmatics Association
• JALT Pragmatics SIG
• American Speech and Hearing Association
• International Cognitive Linguistics Association
Conferences on Pragmatics
• 2nd Conference of the American Pragmatics Association | October 17-19, 2014 at UCLA.
• 14th International Pragmatics Conference from 26 to 31 July 2015 in Antwerp, Belgium.
• 17th Annual Conference of Pragmatics Society of Japan on November 29 and 30, 2014, at Kyoto Notre Dome University, Kyoto.
• Cognitive Linguistics and Pragmatics: Theory and Practice from 24-Oct-2014 - 26-Oct-2014 at Nanjing, China.
• 3rd International Conference on Language, Discourse, and Pragmatics from 28-Jan-2015 - 29-Jan-2015 at Ahvaz, Iran.
• 7th Lodz Symposium: New Developments in Linguistic Pragmatics from 12-Apr-2015 - 14-Apr-2015 at Lodz, Poland.
• Intercultural Pragmatics and Foreign Language Teaching from 21-May-2015 - 22-May-2015 at Mostaganem, Algeria.
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This page was last updated on 10th Oct, 2014
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