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When Charles Morris proposed his famous tracheotomy of syntax, semantic, and
pragmatics, he defined the last as the study of the relation of signs to interpreters (1938,
6), but he soon generalized this to the relation of signs to their users (1938, 29). One year
later Rudolf Carnap proposed to call pragmatic the field of all those investigations which
take into consideration the action, state, environment of a man who speaks or hears [a
linguistic sign] (1939, 4).however, this characterization of pragmatics is so broad that it
includes all studies of language users, from neurolinguistics to sociolinguistics, and would
preclude the possibility of formulating contentful general pragmatic principles.

Therefore, we will take the term of pragmatics to cover the study of language use,
and in particular the study of linguistic communication, in relation to language structure and
context of utterance. For instance, pragmatic must identify central use of language; it must
specify the condition for linguistic expressions, (words, phrases, sentences, discourse) to he
used in those ways, and it must seek to uncover general principles of language use. Much of
this work was originally done by philosophers of language such as Wittgenstein (1953),
Austin (1962), Searle (1969), and Grice (1975), in the years following World War II. In the
1970s, linguistics such as Ross (1970) and Lakoff (1970) attempted to incorporate much of
the work on per formatives, felicity conditions, and presupposition into the framework of
Generative Semantics (see Newmeyer 1980, Harris 1993).

With the breakdown of Generative Semantics pragmatics was left without a unifying
linguistic theory, and research is currently being carried out a number of topics, many of
them surveyed in this chapter, across a number of different including linguistics, philosophy,
psychology, communication, sociology, and anthropology. In what follows we will focus on
the central use of language: communication. We will see what problems it poses to
pragmatics and what structure it has. Finally we will turn to some special topics in

What is pragmatics?

Pragmatics: The study of linguistic meaning as arising in context.

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.

Pragmatics is:

1. The study of what speakers mean, or speaker meaning.

2. Concerned with the study of meaning as communicated by a speaker(or writer) and
interpreted by a listener(or readers)

Different authors have expressed this same idea in different ways.

There are some definition of Pragmatics:

Wikipedia: Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics and semiotics that studies the ways in
which context contributes to meaning
Stalnaker 1970: Pragmatics is the study of linguistic acts and the contexts in which they
are performed.
Kempson 1988: Pragmatics provides an account of how sentences are used in
utterances to convey information in context.
(Carnap, 1942:9): We distinguish three fields of investigation of languages. If in an
investigation explicit reference is made to the speaker, or, to put it in more general
terms, to the user of a language, then we assign it to the field of pragmatics.
(Nerlich, [1956], 1992: 3): In the third stage (of its evolution), semantics merges with
what one would nowadays call pragmatics: word-meaning is now seen as an
epiphenomenon of sentence-meaning and speaker-meaning.
(Crystal and Davy, 1985:278-9): One of the three major divisions of semiotics (along with
SEMANTICS and SYNTACTICS). In LINGUISTICS, the term has come to be applied to the
study of LANGUAGE from the point of view of the user, especially of the choices he
makes, the CONSTRAINTS he encounters in using language in social interaction, and the
effects his use of language has on the other participants in an act of communication.
(Verschueren, 1987:5): [] if our starting point is to be situated at Morriss level of
generality, pragmatics cannot be viewed as another layer on top of the phonology-
morphology-syntax-semantics hierarchy, another COMPONENT of a theory of language
with its own well-defined objectNor does it fit into the contrast set containing
sociolinguistics, anthropological linguistics, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, etc.
Rather, pragmatics, is a PERSPCTIVE on any aspect of language, at any level of
structureOne could say that, in general, the PRAGMATIC PERSPECTIVE centers around
the ADAPTABILITY OF LANGUAGE, the fundamental property of language which enables
us to engage in the activity of talking which consists in the constant making of choices, at
every level of linguistic structure, in harmony with the requirements of people, their
beliefs, desires and intentions, and the real-world circumstances in which they interact.
(Jaworski & Coupland, 1999:14): Closely related to semantics, which is primarily
concerned with the study of word and sentence meaning, pragmatics concerns itself
with the meaning of utterances in specific contexts of use.

"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."

(Geoffrey Finch, Linguistic Terms and Concepts. Palgrave Macmillan, 2000)


What does pragmatics have to offer that cannot be found in good old-fashioned
linguistics? What do pragmatic methods give us in the way of greater understanding of how
the human mind works, how humans communicate, how they manipulate one another, and
in general, how they use language?

The general answer is: pragmatics is needed if we want a fuller, deeper, and generally more
reasonable account of human language behavior.

A more practical answer would be: outside of pragmatics, no understanding; sometimes, a

pragmatic account is the only one that makes sense, as in the following example, borrowed
from David Lodge's Paradise News:

'I just met the old Irishman and his son, coming out of the toilet.'

'I wouldn't have thought there was room for the two of them.'

'No silly, I mean I was coming out of the toilet. They were waiting.' (1992:65)

How do we know what the first speaker meant? Linguists usually say that the first sentence is
ambiguous, and they excel at producing such sentences as

Flying planes can be dangerous

The missionaries are ready to eat

In order to show what is meant by 'ambiguous': a word, phrase, or sentence that can mean
either one or the other of two (or even several) things.

"For a pragmatician, this is, of course, glorious nonsense. In real life, that is, among real
language users, there is no such thing as ambiguity--excepting certain, rather special
occasions, on which one tries to deceive one's partner or 'keep a door open.'"

(Jacob L. Mey, Pragmatics: An Introduction, 2nd ed. Wiley-Blackwell, 2001)


- "We have considered a number of rather different delimitations of the field [of pragmatics].
. . The most promising are the definitions that equate pragmatics with 'meaning minus
semantics,' or with a theory of language understanding that takes context into account, in
order to complement the contribution that semantics makes to meaning. They are not,
however, without their difficulties, as we have noted. To some extent, other conceptions of
pragmatics may ultimately be consistent with these. For example, . . . the definition of
pragmatics as concerned with encoded aspects of context may be less restrictive than it
seems at first sight; for if in general (a) principles of language usage have as corollaries
principles of interpretation, and (b) principles of language usage are likely in the long run to
impinge on grammar (and some empirical support can be found for both propositions), then
theories about pragmatic aspects of meaning will be closely related to theories about the
grammaticalization of aspects of context. So the multiplicity of alternative definitions may
well seem greater than it really is."

(Stephen C. Levinson, Pragmatics. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1983)

"It should be noted that, outside the USA, the term pragmatics is often used in a much
broader sense, so as to include a great number of phenomena that American linguists would
regard as belonging strictly to sociolinguistics: such as politeness, narratives, and the
signaling of power relations." (R.L. Trask, Language and Linguistics: The Key Concepts, 2nd
ed., ed. by Peter Stockwell. Routledge, 2007)


"Since the nature of grammar is held essentially to resolve into issues of the knowledge of
so-called rules of composition (or competence) and, on the other hand, pragmatics is
concerned with characterizing the behavior of language users (as performance), one of the
main challenges in bringing the two disciplines together will be to investigate the possible
links between typically human, rational knowledge and purposeful, for the larger part
culturally acquired behavior. . . . [I]f meaning is what makes people jump (i.e., makes them
pay closer attention in the form of an interpretation and, in certain situations, imitate), then
it should come as no surprise that the key to relating grammar and pragmatics lies in
discovering the very subtle and abstract meanings behind grammatical structures, which
have more often than not been thought to be devoid of any kind of functionality other than
formal. So, while in the not so distant past the encroachment of pragmatics upon grammar
was limited to establishing domains where 'rules' did not appear to apply (lexically prompted
'exceptions' in syntax, context-dependent expressions in semantics), we have now reached a
point where certain grammatical theories adopt a fully pragmatic perspective, usually
referred to as 'usage based.' This means that they address the formative impact of actual
instances of language use on the system as a whole, and that meaning intentions, as a result
of them being intertwined with form in any one such instance, play a crucial role at every
level of organization, from the morpheme, over idioms and formulae, to constructional
templates. This is how meaning (purpose), use (behavior), and linguistic knowledge can be
seen as interrelated ......

(Frank Brisard, "Introduction: Meaning and Use in Grammar."Grammar, Meaning and

Pragmatics, ed. by Frank Brisard, Jan-Ola stman, and Jef Verschueren. John Benjamins,

"The boundary between what counts as semantics and what counts as pragmatics is still a
matter of open debate among linguists ....

'Both [pragmatics and semantics] deal with meaning, so there is an intuitive sense in which
the two fields are closely related. There is also an intuitive sense in which the two are
distinct: Most people feel they have an understanding of the 'literal' meaning of a word or
sentence as opposed to what it might be used to convey in a certain context. Upon trying to
disentangle these two types of meaning from each other, however, things get considerably
more difficult."

(Betty J. Birner, Introduction to Pragmatics. Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)


In this unit you have learned some general ideas about pragmatics and communicative acts.
Just as a refresher, here is a summary of the basic points we have covered.

Pragmatics addresses the way we portray meaning through communication. One way
this meaning is communicated is through communicative acts and communicative act
sequences. This includes verbal and non-verbal expressions.

Communicative acts and communicative act sequences directly refer to linguistic

action. For example, requesting, complimenting, inviting, and apologizing, among
other actions. Communicative acts include non-verbal pragmatic strategies as well.

Pragmatics strategies include sociocultural and language strategies.

It is important to learn pragmatic features of language to ensure that you are

communicating and interpreting the proper meaning, even in a different sociocultural

INDRASARI (1652044001)

NURUL FAHMI (1652044002)