An Introduction to Pragmatics In Linguistics

Pragmatics is the study of how language is used in communication. The pragmatic of language is concerned with audience-directed intention-how the speaker or writer intends the utterance to be taken. It deals very explicitly with the study of relationship holding between linguistic forms and the human beings who use these forms. As such, pragmatics is concerned with people’s intentions, assumptions, beliefs, goals, and the kinds of actions they perform while using language.

Pragmatics is also concerned with context, situation, and settings within which such language uses occur. According to Yule17, the area of pragmatics deals with the speaker meaning and contextual meaning. Speaker meaning is concerned with the analysis of what people mean by their utterances rather than what the words and phrases in those utterances might mean in and of themselves. Speaker meaning, rather than sentence meaning, can only begin to be understood when context is taken into consideration. Any utterance, therefore, can take on various meanings depending on who produced it and under what circumstances.

This science studies the context within which the interaction occurs as well as the intention of the language users. Who are the addressees, what is the relation between speakers/writers and hearers/readers, when and where does the speech event occur and so on. Pragmatics also explore how listeners and readers can make inferences about what is said or written in order to arrive at an interpretation of the user’s intended meaning. There are four kinds of context. First, physical context, it is where a conversation and what action takes places, and what objects are present. Second, epistemic context, it is a background knowledge shared by speaker and hearer. The third is linguistic context. It is about the utterance which is followed by other utterances under consideration. Fourth or the last is social context. It is the social relationship and setting of interactive participants. Obviously, the emphasis in this kind of exploration must be placed not only on what is actually said but also on what is not being said explicitly but recognized implicitly as part of the communicative exchange, such as presupposition,  implication, shared knowledge and circumstantial evidence.

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