Importance of Pragmatics

Using language for communication is a skill and a social skill. If a person has poor pragmatic skills, they may utter unrelated topics in conversation, make inappropriate eye contact, or tell a story in an unorganized way. Practicing reoccurring social situations helps individuals with pragmatic disorders learn the appropriate language and behavior.

In terms of linguistics, pragmatics is the study of the meaning and function of spoken and written language. It examines the context of an utterance, how meaning is negotiated between the speaker and the listener, and how a sign or utterance can be changed from one rounded to another. This is the basis for all language interactions. Moreover, it is also a cross-disciplinary field that includes studies in anthropology, cognitive science, computer science, and linguistics.

The best way to illustrate the importance of pragmatics is to consider how it is used. A simple example is the semantics of passing salt. A person may misinterpret the semantics of passing salt as a command. A more complex example would be someone who is unfamiliar with airports. A ‘watch face’ to see the time may be a purely pragmatic choice. However, an escalator sign is atypical.

There are other less tangible ways to show that you have an impressive plethora of pragmatic skills. For example, if you are an adult, you might decide to raise your hand instead of shouting when answering a question in class. Similarly, children might raise their hands to answer a question in class. They might also show a watch face to someone to see the time.

The most important practical implication of pragmatics is the ability to correctly decipher the meaning of a linguistic utterance. It is important to realize that this does not require that you know the correct language. It is the context and a bit of acquaintence with the meaning of words that will determine the correct meaning.

In the simplest sense, a pragmatic skill is the ability to use language in a social setting in a non-judgmental manner. This does not mean that you must be a perfect person, but it does indicate that you are able to use language to achieve different goals. In addition, you are able to use language in a way that will avoid conflict and negative consequences. Aside from that, a pragmatic skill is the ability to communicate well, build relationships, and adapt communication methods. This is a skill that develops in adolescence, but can be learned by adults as well.

The best pragmatic skills are the ones that demonstrate the most success. For instance, a child may be able to raise their hand in response to a question, but fail to abstract the pragmatic rules of social interaction. This is a common problem in children with autism spectrum disorder, but it is not an uncommon occurrence in other children. A parent can help a child with pragmatic disorder by role-playing social situations with the child and making the child practise these skills.