What is Pragmatics?

Pragmatics is a field of study which examines how people use language in different contexts. It also looks at the way that speakers interpret other people’s utterances. For example, it looks at how a person might take a turn in conversation, what kind of eye contact is made and whether a greeting is offered or not. It is a useful and important part of the English language teaching curriculum.

Unlike semantics, which is concerned with the relationship between signs and objects that they may or do denote, pragmatics is more about how those signals are used by people. Morris 1938 characterized pragmatics as the science of the relation between signs and their interpreters. This is a very broad definition that might encompass several different areas of study, including the theory of ambiguity and indexicality, speech act theory, and the philosophy of language.

Most of the studies in pragmatics are empirical, although there is a growing number of theoretical approaches to the field. Contemporary philosophers often categorize their approach to pragmatics by which of two models they favor: pragmatists and contextualists. Those who are pragmatists think that pragmatics and semantics should be kept separate, while those who are contextualists believe that pragmatics is at the heart of everything we say.

The theory of aporia is a particular form of pragmatics that attempts to explain how and why some expressions are more acceptable than others. It argues that a speaker’s cultural background, beliefs and attitudes can all have an effect on how well an expression is received by a hearer. This is a difficult area of research because the culture and beliefs of each individual are so complex that it is impossible to understand them fully.

A pragmatist is someone who values practical outcomes above traditional ideas or ideals. William James and John Dewey are examples of pragmatists. This school of thought is in contrast to those who believe that traditional ideas are more important than practical outcomes.

As a philosophical approach, pragmatism is not well-established and it continues to evolve over time. However, its main principles remain the same: a person should be guided by what works and what has a good chance of working in real life rather than by abstract concepts like truth or beauty.

It is not easy to teach pragmatic skills in a classroom because the rules are socially constructed. Instead, a teacher must help students acquire pragmatic competence by exposing them to a variety of social situations and encouraging them to interact with their classmates.

Whether or not you choose to incorporate pragmatics into your English class, it is important to set goals that are appropriate for the learners’ level and developmental stage. For example, a high-school student may need to learn basic turn-taking rules and how to express empathy while a younger student might need to work on interpreting social cues. Once you have established these goals, you can implement strategies to teach and build up students’ pragmatic competence.