HISTORY AND USE OF PRAGMATICS

Introduction

Just like every other existing entity, pragmatics has an origin. It is largely believed that when one knows the history of a thing, he will know better how that thing would work or how successful it would be in the future. If a person will succeed in dealing with a problem, he must first find out the origin of that problem. It is the same with pragmatics which does not just appear from nowhere. It went through stages and also had challenges to overcome which it did overcome to reach its present state.

Definition of Pragmatics

Pragmatics is basically concerned with interpretation through context. Meaning is analysed based on users’ relation with everything around. Whatever circumstance that influences the interpretation of codes is built up through inter-dependence of societal variables. This means that meaning is not a one-way thing. Every word that is said has a peculiar meaning as affected by the surrounding circumstances that prompts its use.

Charlse Morris defines pragmatics as “the study of the relation of signs to interpreters” (1938:6). Pragmatics study how signs are interpreted differently beyond the limits of syntactic or semantic rules. Though rules exist in languages, people from different linguistic backgrounds are still able to communicate when they meet. This happens because the interlocutors put together other linguistic properties outside specific languages in their effort to communicate. Whatever one does to understand a message passed through unconventional linguistic means is an exercise of pragmatics.

According to Mey (1993:6) “pragmatics studies the use of language in human communication as determined by the conditions of society”. These conditions do not refer to laws, rules or governance. They refer to the way we can see things through what we experience in the natural state of our society; including weather, people language, colours etc.

Griffiths says that, Pragmatics involves the use of the linguistic tools brought together by semantics to succeed in meaningful communication. Pragmatics is about the interaction of semantic knowledge with our knowledge of the world, taking into account contexts of use.

Use of pragmatics

Mey says that the use of pragmatics depends on how users view linguistics and how they place pragmatics within it (1993:11). We may see pragmatics as a component of linguistics like syntax, semantics and phonology. We may see it as an independent entity that tends to step in when there is a problem in a linguistic environment; it surfaces when every linguistic field fails to address certain issues about meaning.

Importance of pragmatics includes;

  1. Generally, pragmatics offers a fuller, deeper and more reasonable account of human behaviour.
  2. Outside pragmatics, no understanding: most times, we don’t rely completely on grammatical or syntactic connection of words to understand what is communicated. A statement can be ambiguous; such as

Flying planes can be dangerous.

This could mean any of

  1. It is dangerous to fly planes, or
  2. When a plane is flying, something dangerous can happen.

One would need to analyse the circumstance of discussion to understand whether the speaker means.

  1. Pragmatics enables language creation: this is because it enables people to use language stylistically or a more codified manner for specific purpose. New words or new ways of using existing words can come out of that. For example computerize is formed from computer on just because –ize is added to change a word to a noun. Computer can still be used as a verb as in computered

 

  1. Leech (1983) in his supportive contribution defended the eligibility of Pragmatics as an independent field of linguistic study by saying that Semantics does not handle all issues relating to meaning, that those areas neglected by semantics are those that pragmatics handles. For instance the speech act theory and politeness principles are areas Semantics has ignored. Pragmatics has leaped beyond textual limitations to explore meaning at a broader and seemingly abstract linguistic vista.

The origin of pragmatics

For over thirty years the field of Pragmatics has been experiencing rapid growth as a result of the great interest of researchers on it. Pragmatics which studies meaning in relation to context is an area of linguistic study that began since in the late 70s.

Pragmatics may be considered a new field in linguistics. However, its origin can be dated back to the ancient Greek and Rome. The term is derived from the Latin pragmaticus which in Greek is pragmaticos, both meaning practical. Its study can also be linked to the theory of signs by Charlse Morris (1938) who says that Pragmatics studies the relations of signs to the objects to which the signs are applicable. Grice (1975) is another major contributor to the study of pragmatics who in a more modern approach says that pragmatics should be centred on more practical dimension of meaning. His suggestion is advanced by other earlier linguists like Leech (1983) and Levinson (1983). In 1975, Grice came up with the “Pragmatic Principles,” and in 1983 Leech made a very significant contribution by coming up with the “Politeness Principles.” Green (1989) defines pragmatics as a natural language understanding, which was in some way substantiated by Blakemore (1990) in her “Understanding Utterance.”

The emergence of pragmatics can be traced to the invalidation of earlier linguistic theories and hypotheses, one of which was Chomsky’s “Syntax-only” approach that states that linguistic description must relate to syntax only if it must be valid. There were linguistic issues that could not be explained by the existing theories at this time, and this problem was first noticed not by linguist, but by Philosophers working in the gray zone; a meeting point between linguistics and philosophy.

Syntax could not treat extra linguistic issues adequately. There was also problem in interpreting certain assumptions known as presuppositions which contribute to general understanding of language. According to Mey (pg 3), “’pragmatic turn’ in linguistics can thus be described as a shift from the paradigm of theoretical grammar to the paradigm of the language user.” That is to say that the usage of linguistic items are examined in relation to the user, and not restricted to grammatical contents alone.

Semantics was regarded as a waste basket into which syntactically problematic sentences were dropped; sentences like Chomsky’s colourless green books sleep furiously. This is an example of a sentence that is syntactically acceptable by its meaning is not acceptable. The argument continues that more and more of such statements were dropped in the syntax waste basket until it began to overflow with other statements that semantics alone cannot explain. This introduces another waste basket or ragbag that is called pragmatics. For instance I love you may not be sufficiently accounted for semantically as the meaning would defer as to whether a husband is talking to a wife or to a daughter, or a man talking to another man. Context which is a pragmatic concept becomes an aspect to be recognised in understanding the sentence properly.

Researchers continued to expound the concept of Pragmatics to the point that the International Pragmatics Association (IPrA) was established in Antwerp in 1987. This indicated the growth and establishment of Pragmatics as an independent linguistic subfield that is concerned with examining the everyday use of language in society. The success of pragmatics continues with the contributory publications of Journal of Pragmatics that began since 1977 and Pragmatics in 1991 on issues of great linguistic concern. Other publications (published and unpublished) like thesis, book series, dissertation, newsletters and reference works (like Concise Encyclopaedia of Pragmatics; 1998) also contributed to the field of pragmatics. Several international conferences have been held in Viareggio 1985, Antwerp 1987, Barcelona 1990, Kobe, 1993 and other places where issues covering pragmatics where discussed.

Criticisms against pragmatics

In the process of its development, Pragmatics also had to contend with certain criticisms.

  1. Pragmatics did not have a defined focus. For that reason, areas of linguistics that were not quite clearly explainable were given to the field of pragmatics, and that was why it was referred to as a garbage can where recalcitrant data are kept.
  2. Pragmatic principles were considered fussy and incapable of adequately telling people how to clearly choose meaning relating to a unit of utterance. Marshal (in Cun, 1989) suggested that Pragmatics was not capable of existing as an independent subfield of linguistics since semantics has already dealt with the issues of meaning.
  3. It was called a rag bag into which semantically analysable data where dropped. This means that only statements that made no semantic sense, and are therefore not of any linguistic importance are considered properties of pragmatics.

Conclusion

Pragmatics may be termed a baby-field in the family of linguistics. However it has grown to maturity at this point and can fend for itself as an independent body. Whatever challenge it had to face in its developmental process, it is quite agreeable now that it has contributed immensely to the study of meaning. It has become like a backbone to “almighty” Syntax.

Works Cited

Green, Georgia M. Pragmatics and Natural Language Understanding. Hillsdale: N. J. Etrlbaum, 1989.

Leech, Geofrey N. Principles of Pragmatics. London: Longman, 1983.

Levinson, Stephen C. Pragmatics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983.

Mey , Jacob L. Pragmatics: An Introduction. Australia: Blackwell Publishing, 1993.

 

937 total views, 2 views today

Related Posts

  • 100
    Introduction Just like every other existing entity, pragmatics has an origin. It is largely believed that when one knows the history of a thing, he…

98 thoughts on “HISTORY AND USE OF PRAGMATICS

  1. I just want to tell you that I am beginner to blogging and site-building and definitely enjoyed your website. Likely I’m want to bookmark your blog . You definitely have perfect well written articles. Kudos for revealing your web-site.

  2. Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  3. Thank you for any other informative blog. Where else could I get that type of information written in such an ideal way? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now working on, and I have been at the look out for such information.

  4. This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your fantastic post. Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks!

  5. I’ve recently started a website, the information you provide on this website has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work. “If you see a snake, just kill it. Don’t appoint a committee on snakes.” by H. Ross Perot.

  6. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.

  7. I like this post, enjoyed this one regards for putting up. “When you make a world tolerable for yourself, you make a world tolerable for others.” by Anais Nin.

  8. I have not checked in here for some time as I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

  9. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently rapidly.

  10. It can be practically impossible to come across well-qualified people on this content, in addition you appear like you be aware of the things that you’re posting on! Excellent

  11. I was pretty pleased to find this site. I wanted to thank you for ones time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new things in your web site.

  12. I simply need to notify you that I am new to writing a blog and undeniably adored your write-up. Very likely I am inclined to save your blog post . You absolutely have stunning article materials. Love it for swapping with us your current site write-up

  13. It’s right occasion to have some preparations for the extended term. I’ve digested this posting and if I have the ability to, I wish to suggest you some intriguing assistance.

  14. I’m more than happy to uncover this great site. I need to to thank you for ones time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every bit of it and I have you book marked to check out new stuff on your website.

  15. I just need to inform you that I am new to online blogging and very much adored your work. Probably I am inclined to save your blog post . You indeed have wonderful article content. Like it for discussing with us your main url post

  16. Might be nearly impossible to come across well-advised americans on this theme, nevertheless you appear like you fully grasp what you’re talking about! With Thanks

  17. It is usually proper day to put together some desires for the long-run. I have digested this blog posting and if I may, I wish to suggest you number of unique tips and advice.

  18. It really is practically extremely difficult to come across well-aware parties on this niche, however , you appear like you are familiar with which you’re preaching about! Gratitude

  19. I’m more than happy to discover this page. I need to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every bit of it and I have you book-marked to see new things in your website.

  20. Very well written article. It will be valuable to anybody who utilizes it, as well as yours truly :). Keep up the good work – i will definitely read more posts.

  21. Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem along with your website in web explorer, may check this¡K IE nonetheless is the marketplace chief and a large component to other folks will pass over your fantastic writing due to this problem.

  22. Gday there, just started to be receptive to your blog page through Search engine, and realized that it’s pretty good. I’ll like should you persist this informative article.

  23. I simply could not leave your site before suggesting that I really loved the usual information a person supply on your guests? Is gonna be again ceaselessly in order to check up on new posts

  24. I just wish to inform you you that I am new to online blogging and certainly cherished your page. Probably I am going to store your blog post . You absolutely have stunning article material. Be Grateful For it for swapping with us the best domain post

  25. Thank you for every other fantastic article. The place else could anybody get that kind of info in such an ideal manner of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m at the search for such info.

  26. I¡¦m now not certain where you are getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend a while studying much more or working out more. Thanks for fantastic information I used to be looking for this information for my mission.

  27. My wife and i were really excited that Albert managed to deal with his studies by way of the precious recommendations he discovered from your very own web page. It’s not at all simplistic just to continually be giving out guides that most people may have been trying to sell. And now we see we need the writer to be grateful to for this. All of the illustrations you have made, the simple blog navigation, the friendships you can give support to create – it’s most unbelievable, and it is helping our son in addition to the family do think the article is awesome, which is certainly incredibly pressing. Thank you for everything!

  28. Hey here, just got aware of your writings through Search engines like google, and realized that it is truly helpful. I’ll appreciate if you decide to continue this informative article.

  29. It¡¦s in point of fact a nice and useful piece of info. I am glad that you just shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  30. great publish, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite specialists of this sector do not understand this. You must proceed your writing. I’m confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  31. I would like to convey my appreciation for your kind-heartedness giving support to those people that should have help with this theme. Your personal commitment to getting the solution all around has been pretty practical and has empowered many people like me to get to their pursuits. Your personal invaluable suggestions signifies a lot a person like me and somewhat more to my office workers. Warm regards; from everyone of us.

  32. Hello my loved one! I wish to say that this post is amazing, nice written and come with almost all important infos. I would like to peer extra posts like this .

  33. I happen to be writing to let you know of the awesome discovery my friend’s princess had reading through your web page. She picked up a wide variety of issues, not to mention what it’s like to have a very effective giving mindset to let the rest without problems have an understanding of some specialized matters. You truly did more than my desires. Thank you for presenting the valuable, safe, informative and as well as fun tips on your topic to Gloria.

  34. Greetings here, just started to be alert to your post through Search engine, and realized that it’s truly good. I will take pleasure in should you decide persist this.

  35. I simply have to advise you that I am new to writing a blog and utterly adored your webpage. Probably I am probably to remember your blog post . You certainly have superb article information. Appreciate it for telling with us all of your blog report

  36. I simply have to show you that I am new to blogging and really adored your page. Most likely I am likely to save your blog post . You literally have great article blog posts. Delight In it for swapping with us your favorite web write-up

  37. I was more than happy to find this page. I want to to thank you for your time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely liked every part of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to look at new things on your blog.

  38. I’m extremely pleased to uncover this great site. I need to to thank you for your time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new stuff in your site.

  39. Varick Street Litho is one of the top printing companies in NYC to provide the best digital printing in New York. Their printing services in NYC adopts state of the art digital printing services and offset digital printing for products postcards, business cards, catalogs, brochures, stickers, flyers, large format posters, banners and more for business in NYC. For more information on their digital printing nyc, visit http://www.vslprint.com/ or http://www.vslprint.com/printing 121 Varick Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10013. Or contact +1 646 843 0800

  40. I’m more than happy to discover this website. I need to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely liked every little bit of it and I have you book marked to see new information in your website.

  41. I’m excited to uncover this great site. I wanted to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every bit of it and I have you book marked to look at new stuff on your web site.

  42. Varick Street Litho is one of the top printing companies in NYC to provide the best digital printing in New York. Their printing services in NYC adopts state of the art digital printing services and offset digital printing for products postcards, business cards, catalogs, brochures, stickers, flyers, large format posters, banners and more for business in NYC. For more information on their digital printing nyc, visit http://www.vslprint.com/ or http://www.vslprint.com/printing 121 Varick Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10013. Or contact +1 646 843 0800

  43. What i do not understood is in truth how you’re not actually much more smartly-appreciated than you may be right now. You’re so intelligent. You understand therefore considerably on the subject of this topic, produced me in my view believe it from numerous numerous angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be fascinated until it is something to do with Girl gaga! Your individual stuffs great. All the time maintain it up!

  44. Great tremendous things here. I¡¦m very happy to see your article. Thanks so much and i am having a look ahead to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

  45. Hi there, I discovered your site via Google whilst looking for a similar subject, your site got here up, it appears great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  46. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  47. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such fantastic information being shared freely out there.

  48. I’m so happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the accidental misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.

  49. Thanks a lot for sharing this with all folks you actually recognize what you are talking approximately! Bookmarked. Please also talk over with my site =). We may have a hyperlink alternate agreement among us!

  50. I do trust all of the ideas you’ve offered on your post. They’re really convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are too quick for novices. May you please prolong them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

  51. Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

  52. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research on this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I am very glad to see such great info being shared freely out there.

  53. Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your site in web explorer, may test this¡K IE nonetheless is the marketplace chief and a huge component of other folks will omit your excellent writing due to this problem.

  54. I like what you guys are up also. Such intelligent work and reporting! Carry on the superb works guys I¡¦ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my website 🙂

  55. I must convey my passion for your kind-heartedness supporting men and women that absolutely need help with this particular subject matter. Your special dedication to passing the message all over turned out to be wonderfully helpful and has in every case made individuals much like me to reach their targets. Your new insightful key points denotes much a person like me and especially to my peers. With thanks; from everyone of us.

  56. Magnificent site. Plenty of useful information here. I am sending it to several pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And naturally, thanks for your effort!

  57. I will right away take hold of your rss as I can’t to find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly permit me recognize in order that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  58. It is in point of fact a great and useful piece of information. I¡¦m happy that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  59. Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Very useful information specially the last part 🙂 I care for such information much. I was looking for this certain info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.