Essentially, pragmatics is the study of how words and language are used to accomplish different purposes. Specifically, pragmatics examines how human language interacts with social and physical environments. It also explores how language affects the relationship between the speaker and the listener.
Pragmatics is a specialized branch of linguistics. The field includes both formal and informal studies. Formal pragmatics deals with the illocutionary forces of a language, such as how a speaker’s words can change the meaning of a sentence. Formal pragmatics is also related to context dependence.
The idea of pragmatics arose between 1780 and 1830 in Europe and Britain. Linguists began to agree on a particular point of view, which is that language is a form of human action. They also agreed that dialogue is a type of pragmatics. A formal approach to pragmatics is represented by Carlo Dalla Pozza’s logical theory of formal pragmatics.
The study of pragmatics can be divided into two main groups: near-side and far-side. Near-side pragmatics focuses on how a speaker’s words are used in a particular conversation. The speaker’s meaning is determined by the context surrounding the utterance. For example, if someone is greeting another person, the listener will understand who told them to greet. The listener will also follow the flow of reference throughout the conversation.
The far-side of pragmatics studies what happens beyond the words. For example, if someone asks a question, the respondent will make an assumption about the speaker’s intention. This assumption is known as an implicature. The listener will follow the flow of reference and track syntactic clues throughout the conversation.
The use of socially constructed rules in a conversation guides eye contact, body language, and turn taking. These rules also guide greetings and greeting phrases. In fact, a greeting that is not accompanied by a physical gesture such as raising a hand can result in a disapproving response from the person being addressed.
Formal pragmatics also deals with the logical theory of referential descriptions. A reference resolution is one of the most important tasks of computational pragmatics. Rather than relying on natural language processing to analyze the meaning of a speech, computational pragmatics employs algorithms to provide a computer system with a database of knowledge. This database can then be used to control how the system responds to incoming data.
For example, when someone asks, “Do you have any daughters?” the respondent’s literal response may include details about their children’s names and medical conditions. However, this literal response does not provide the listener with the meaning of the question. The literal response assumes the speaker’s intention to ask about their children. The response is also less than fully precise, as the speaker could have had more than two sons.
The role of pragmatics in language is also studied through the use of role play. In role play, children practice social skills and develop conversational abilities. This can help children with poor pragmatic skills to improve their language skills. In addition, children who are able to participate in role play social situations may be more willing to participate in real-world conversations. They will learn how to use social language more effectively and accurately convey their ideas.