Pragmatics is the study of how language works in the world. It examines the ways in which words and sentences convey information to listeners, how speakers interpret and understand what they are saying, and how their meaning is shaped by context.
The key difference between pragmatics and semantics is that, as Semantics focuses on the linguistic encoded meaning of words, Pragmatics deals with the way in which these words are interpreted by others.
In other words, Pragmatics tries to explain why words are used the way they are.
There are several theories in the field of pragmatics: lexical semantics, discourse analysis, conversational implicature, and reference resolution.
Linguistic and cognitive development: The relationship between children’s linguistic growth and their ability to understand others is one of the most popular topics in pragmatics. Many researchers have found that children’s linguistic and cognitive abilities are influenced by their pragmatic skills.
Using words in a specific way can be a very challenging task for young children. However, current work on how children acquire pragmatic competence reveals that some underlying mechanisms allow them to overcome their early limitations and become fully adult-like communicators.
When children are able to interpret other people’s communication, they may do so by inferring the speaker’s intentions or the way in which they think. This is what differentiates children’s ability to communicate from that of adults.
This ability, known as a “conversational inference theory,” relies on the notion that a speaker can trust the hearer to interpret what she or he means by the words being said.
The ability to infer what a speaker is trying to say depends on the context of the conversation and the speaker’s understanding of what the listener wants to hear.
In addition to the literal meaning of a word, words can also have figurative or non-literal meanings, such as metaphor, irony, or metonymy. Some authors consider this a continuum rather than a clear-cut distinction.
Nevertheless, some authors distinguish between the literal and the non-literal meanings of words.
Some linguists divide the meaning of a word into two categories, based on whether it is close to or far from conventionally-meaningful or literally-meaningful words.
While the literal meaning of a word is the most common, the non-literal meaning can be equally important.
A good example of this is the word “too.” This can be taken as a non-literal or literal meaning.
This can be an idiosyncratic utterance or an intentional statement of the speaker’s beliefs.
It can also be a reversal of the normal meanings of a word.
The idiosyncratic use of words can be a result of the speaker’s personal preferences or cultural norms.
In the United States, there are two main schools of thought: lexical semantics and discourse analysis. Both are oriented toward the grammatical evaluative meaning of a word, with each view arguing that it provides a complete account of its meaning.
The debate has shifted over time, with some scholars now favoring a more abstract approach. Some linguists have even moved away from the concept of semantics altogether, focusing instead on the contextually-derived meaning of a word.