Learning english lessons about pragmatics




Learning english lessons about pragmatics


The following texts are the property of their respective authors and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to share for free to students, teachers and users of the Web their texts will used only for illustrative educational and scientific purposes only.





     Pragmatics is a relatively newer area of linguistic studies than semantics and still lacks a coherent level of theorization.


As we said, semantics and pragmatics are the study of meaning communicated through language.


The first is concerned with sentence meaning. The second is concerned with utterance meaning.

Sentences are abstract grammatical elements. Utterances are concrete strings of words.


Semantics is part of our grammatical competence and focuses on decontextualized meaning, while pragmatics focuses on contextualized meaning.


What does it mean? is a request of information independent of both speakers (Semantics)


What do you mean? is a request of information dependent on the speaker’s intention (Pragmatics)



     Natural language has a logic which is different from formal logic, it allows certain things to be implied beyond those actually stated. These are called Implicatures.


     The linguist principally associated with the study of

     implicatures is the philosopher H.P. Grice, who argued

     that for successful communication there must be an unspoken agreement between the speakers.



This is called the cooperative principle and is

     associated with 4 maxims concerning

     - quantity

     - quality

     - relation and

     - manner.

As a whole, they establish the  relevance of an utterance.




Maxims of quantity


      Make your contribution as informative as is required for the purposes of the exchange.

      Do not make your contribution more informative than is required


Maxim of relation


Be relevant


Maxims of manner


     Avoid obscurity

     Avoid ambiguity

     Avoid unnecessary prolissity

     Be orderly


Maxims of quality


     Do not say what you believe to be false

     Do not say that for which you lack evidence


     Speakers can choose to flout (disregard) or to violate these implicit principles.


     Flouting is different from violating because it allows to comply with the rules indirectly.



     For example, sarcastic remarks only apparently violate the maxim of quality (truth), and fiction often flouts the maxim of manner (flashbacks, digressions, etc.)

     So flouting makes communication more creative.


     The maxims are also the source of conversational

     implicatures, or implied meanings.


     (Ex. Who ate the

     fish? / I saw the cat in the kitchen this morning).







     Sometimes we use cautious notes, or hedges, to suggest that we are conscious of the maxims even if we are slightly disregarding them.




     As far as I know / I guess / I’m not sure, but… (quality)


     To cut a long story short/ In a few words (quantity)


     Anyway / To change the subject (relation)


    I don’t know if it’s clear, but… (manner)


     In the 1980’s the cooperative principle was refined by the addition of the politeness principle, suggested by G. Leech to explain why people sometimes say things in an indirect way or tell innocent lies, thus breaking the maxim of quality, in order to be more tactful.


     Other linguists suggested that all the maxims of the cooperative principle could be summed up by the concept

     of relevance Þ relevance theory




     Implicatures result from the process of implication which speakers and listeners rely on when producing and interpreting utterances.


     Grice distinguishes between two kinds of implicature:

     conventional and non conventional.



     The first is a consequence of natural logic.

     If I say “Some people like horror movies”,I’m implying

     that not everybody does (scalar implicature).


     The second depends on contextual information, including information about the participants and their relationship with each other.


     A sub-class of non conventional implicature is conversational implicature, which arises from

     the necessity to make our utterances coherent and clear.


     The cooperative principle and its maxims enable us to make inferences beyond what is

     explicitly stated.


     The amount of inferring which speakers expect listeners to undertake depends on the

     degree of shared knowledge between them.




     Generalized conversational implicature is based on the expectation that the speaker is

     respecting the maxims:


     If a friend asks you if you have any pets and you answer that you have two cats, he/she is

     authorized to think that there are no other animals in your house.


     Particularized implicature presupposes some sort of shared knowledge between the





Are you coming to the party?

I’ve got an exam tomorrow.


     The answer is only apparently irrelevant.




     While entailment concerns the truth relations between sentences,

     presupposition refers to the assumptions made by speakers and

     listeners which are necessary for the correct interpretation of utterances.




     “Jane killed Bill” entails that “Bill died”, because there is a semantic relationship between “kill” and “die”. If we negate the first sentence, we also negate the second.


     “My daughter went to school this morning” presupposes that “I have a daughter”. Even if I negate the sentence – “My daughter didn’t go to school this morning” – the presupposition holds because it is a necessary precondition for either the positive or the negative statement to be true.


     Presuppositions often depend on our knowledge of the world.




     A theory originally introduced by the philosopher J.L Austin in

     the 1930’s and developed by J.R. Searle.


     It argues that when we use language we are performing certain acts. Utterances can be regarded as actions.


     There are 3 kinds of acts that utterances can perform:


     A locutionary act (just saying)


     An illucutionary act (warning, promising, offering) with an

     illocutionary force.


     A perlocutionary act (consequence of an illocutionary act:persuading, deterring, surprising) with a perlocutionary effect.


Sometimes the same utterance can have different illocutionary forces (promise/warning) and thus different perlocutionary effects. How can speakers be sure that the intended force will be recognized?


     There are Illocutionary Force Indicating Devices (IFIDS)

     for this, and felicity conditions.


     One IFID can be using explicitly the performative verb (I promise you / I warn you / I order you).


     Other IFIDs are word order, stress andintonation.




     I’ll see you later (promise or threat?)


Felicity conditions include:


     General conditions:


     The participants are not play-acting or joking.


     Content conditions:


     For example, in the case of both promises and warnings

     the utterance must be about a future event and a future

     act of the speaker.


     Preparatory conditions:


     In a threat, the event will not happen by itself and will have a negative effect.


     Sincerity conditions:


     In a promise, I intend to carry out the future action.


     Essential conditions:


     If I promise, the utterance changes my state from non-obligation to obligation.


     The focus of this theory tend to be illocutionary acts.


     Initially Austin distinguished between a class of performative utterances and a class of constative utterances.


     Performatives are a special type of utterances the saying of which

     performs the action named by the verb. For example: I pronounce you man and wife. I apologize. I baptize you.


     They presuppose some specific felicity conditions.


     Constatives are all the other utterances.


     Later he abandoned this distinction and introduced explicit and implicit performatives.


     The difference between the two is that explicit performatives

     include a performative verb (affirm, predict, announce).


      In conclusion all utterances are speech acts.

      The following studies have been directed to categorizing possible acts.


      Some of them are grammatically distinct from others, like declarative, interrogative and imperative sentences.

      Other categories proposed by Searle are:


Representatives (asserting, concluding, describing)

Directives (requesting, questioning, ordering)


Commissives (promising, offering)

Expressives (thanking, apologizing)


Declarations (excommunicating, declaring war)

      Speech acts can also be indirect, particularly requests and orders.


Source http://www.uniroma2.it/didattica/ling_ing1_linfo/deposito/PRAGMATICS.doc

Author : not indicated on the document source


Learning english lessons about pragmatics



Visita la nostra pagina principale


Learning english lessons about pragmatics



This site is not a news organization and is updated without any periodicity, solely on the basis of availability of material, so is not an editorial product subject to discipline in art. 1, paragraph III of Law No. 62, 7.03.2001. The summaries, notes, lyrics and quotes contained on this site are available free of charge to students, researchers, professors, technicians with illustrative educational and scientific purposes with the concept of fair use and purpose of compliance with EU Directive 2001/29 / EC and the Law Article 633. Dlg 70 and 68. The site is managed and coordinated by the author only for informational and educational purposes. While considering the reliable sources used, the author of this site does not guarantee the accuracy and integrity of information and therefore accepts no responsibility for any problems or damage caused by errors or omissions, if such errors or omissions result from negligence , accident or other cause. All notes, quotes the texts and images are property of their respective authors and production companies that own the rights, if the beneficiaries were considered damaged by the inclusion of these files on this site or had been inadvertently inserted images, information, text or other copyrighted material will be immediately removed and or it will be referred to the source from simple message to the e-mail address indicated on the contact page.

The mission of this site is the progress of science and useful arts, as we think they are very important for our country's social and cultural benefits of the free sharing of information. All information and images on this site are used here only for educational purposes, cognitive and informative. The medicine and health information contained on this site is general in nature and informative purposes only and therefore can not replace in any case the advice of a doctor (or a legally authorized person to the profession). On this site we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of tools, calculators and information, we can not give a guarantee or be held responsible for any errors that were made, the texts used were taken from sites that have put them in available free of charge to make them known on the web with educational purposes. If you find an error on this site or if you find a text or tool that may violate any applicable laws of copyright, please notify us via e-mail and we will promptly remove it.




Learning english lessons about pragmatics