What is Pragmatics?

Pragmatics is a study of how meaning is created in different contexts. It focuses on relationships between individuals, between people and their language, and between sign systems.

Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics, which was first introduced in the 1930s by philosopher and psychologist Charles W. Morris. Since then, there have been four major frameworks that are used to study pragmatics: syntax, semantics, morphology, and conversational implicature. These frameworks build the foundation for the study of language.

Semantics is a term that describes the meaning of words. Semantics can be divided into two main areas: literal meaning and contextual knowledge. Literal meaning is based on the actual ideas that the words refer to, whereas contextual knowledge is more closely related to the processing of information.

The second area, conversational implicature, relies on the cooperation between the speaker and listener to make sense of a conversation. This concept is linked to co-operative theory.

An example of this is the use of demonstrative adjectives, such as “I have two sons”. Demonstrative adjectives are used to make sense of a sentence. But it is important to note that these are also influenced by the context. If the speaker were to say “Do you have any children?”, the meaning would change to “I have two sons”.

Often, a child’s pragmatic skills will be influenced by a number of factors, such as social environment, age, and developmental or neurological disorders. When these factors are combined, it is possible that a child will not be able to fully express their ideas or communicate effectively. To combat this, children can engage in role playing and social situations. In addition, visual supports can be a helpful tool. Children with autism or other cognitive and behavioural disorders may have trouble with the components of pragmatic language.

A child with a language disorder will not be able to fully abstract the elements of pragmatics, which makes it difficult to communicate and understand their thoughts. They might talk about unrelated subjects in their conversation, use inappropriate eye contact, or tell stories in a confusing or unorganized manner. Therefore, it is critical to learn how to address these issues early. Not only will addressing them help increase acceptance of the child in their community, but it can also improve the child’s social skills.

There are several ways to address these issues, including role playing, using visual supports, and practicing reoccurring social situations. The latter option is especially effective because the child will be able to practice and build their conversational skills in these situations. For this reason, it is recommended that a child with a disorder or disability be evaluated for these problems, and that parents be aware of their potential consequences.

Social communication involves the use of gestures, facial expressions, and appropriate distances. This includes speaking at an appropriate volume and following rules and unspoken rules, such as understanding personal space. However, if a child has a deficit in this area, they may not be able to participate as well as their peers, which can lead to negative outcomes.