What is pragmatics? This is an umbrella term for several disciplines, all of which are concerned with human behavior. Its goal is to answer questions about the relationship between words, speakers, and their actions and communication. Its definition includes the use of examples, which help clarify what the term means. But the question remains: What is pragmatics, and how does it relate to semantics? Let’s look at two important examples. The first example is the concept of reference.
Another definition of pragmatics is the ability to follow unspoken social norms. In other words, this style of communication is a result of observing subtle, unspoken rules of conversation. Pragmatic people use these characteristics to adapt and succeed in different situations. For example, a person who has good interpersonal skills is likely to adapt well to different work cultures. Using the pragmatic style is not only beneficial for professional development, but it will help you in the workplace.
A second example of pragmatics involves how words and sentences are used in real life situations. In a store, for example, a cashier might ask, “How are you doing today?” Rather than answering directly, people respond with something like “fine.” This implies that they expect the cashier to not provide full details. Similarly, when a business owner wants to convey their opinion to a customer, he or she may not have a detailed answer for the customer.
A third example of pragmatics is the use of indirect meaning. The process of conversation involves several steps, including a speaker inferring the meaning of a statement. The listener, who may not understand the meaning of an indirect statement, will infer the meaning based on context. The speaker uses non-direct speech to suggest an intention, and the listener assumes that the speaker’s intention is correct. This process is known as conversational implicature.
Another example of pragmatics is the ability to relate to others’ feelings. Empathy plays a large role in social communication and is a valuable skill to develop. In fact, empathy can improve one’s career. In addition to verbal communication, pragmatic skills also require spatial intelligence. If an individual has good spatial intelligence, they can easily recognize the comfort level of co-workers and others. This skill is essential for having a strong pragmatic approach.
Relevance Theory: This branch of philosophy emphasizes the importance of contextual information when interpreting language. The relevance theory looks at the meaning beyond what the speaker says. The relevance theory also focuses on the extent to which pragmatics intrudes into what people are saying. Ultimately, this view of pragmatics requires the hearer to understand the underlying meaning. It argues that meaning can be changed by context. If semantics is important, then pragmatics should also consider this factor.