Key Terms in Pragmatics

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Why do the potential benefits of deception not cause the system to collapse? The creation of novel sign systems How do new systems get started? What role does iconicity play? How do we signal signalhood? What factors play a causal role in this process? Which of these factors are shared with other species? These lists are not intended to be exhaustive. They are simply indicative lists of the sorts of issues that fall under each of the two main topic areas identified above. The importance of strong pragmatics does not stop here, with description of the important questions.

A pragmatic perspective is also essential to answering these questions. Question 1 is fundamentally about pragmatics itself, and good answers to Question 2 will almost certainly include an important role for pragmatics, because the demands of expressing oneself in a comprehensible manner—that is, of pragmatics—are clearly a critical factor in the cultural evolution of languages. Where, then, should future work be directed?

In the case of Question 1, the further development of comparative approaches is clearly critical. As was mentioned above, pragmatics in the weaker sense of the term is biologically widespread; but what about pragmatics in the stronger sense of the term? One example of a relevant finding is the discovery that interactive turn-taking in communication takes place in all major primate clades Levinson, However, there is much more to be done, and more focus should be directed to noncommunicative social cognition.

Strong pragmatics is in the end a matter of mutually assisted social cognition: Signalers aim to affect the mental states of their audience, and the audience attempts to infer those intentions—and as such, comparisons between the social cognition of humans and other species is of high relevance to the evolution of ostensive communication Scott-Phillips, a , b ; Tomasello, Regarding Question 2, a key goal should be to link the study of the cultural evolution of languages with cognitive anthropology, one of the central concerns of which is how and why cultural items emerge and remain stable see, e.

As was discussed above, languages are sets of cultural, communicative conventions, and language evolution is concerned with how these conventions develop the sort of properties that make them linguistic in the first place. As such, language evolution and cognitive anthropology each have much to offer the other—but this potential for mutually beneficial exchange has not yet been exploited in any substantial way.

PHILOSOPHY - Language: Gricean Pragmatics [HD]

Of course, some other important questions for language evolution are less fundamentally dependent on pragmatics than are those discussed above. The term language is not synonymous with either languages or communication. Instead, it is commonly—although not universally—used to describe whatever domain-specific capacities that humans have to acquire and use languages Bolhuis et al.

Perceptual abilities and memory are two obvious examples of cognitive abilities that are relevant to language use but not specifically linguistic. Many researchers, especially biologists and psychologists, use language as being roughly synonymous with FLB; others—especially, but not only, linguists of the generative school—use it as synonymous with FLN. Either way, a critical question is what, if anything, is in FLN?

These are vexed issues, at the heart of the most prominent theoretical disputes in linguistics. There is no general consensus over the contents of FLN. Languages the sets of communicative conventions that enhance the expressive range of human ostensive communication ;. FLB those aspects of biology or cognition that are employed in language acquisition and use, but are not specifically linguistic—e. Correspondingly, the aims of language evolution, as a field of study, should be to describe and explain the origins and evolution, whether biological or cultural, of each of these.

Chapter 1: Introducing Key Concepts

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Psychon Bull Rev. Published online Jul 1. Thomas C.

Scott-Phillips 1, 2. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Scott-Phillips, Email: ku. Corresponding author. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Pragmatics has historically played a relatively peripheral role in language evolution research. Keywords: Pragmatics, Language evolution, Communication, Social cognition.

Speech Act Theory's examination of Illocutionary Acts has many of the same goals as pragmatics, as outlined above. Computational Pragmatics, as defined by Victoria Fromkin , concerns how humans can communicate their intentions to computers with as little ambiguity as possible. Reference resolution, how a computer determines when two objects are different or not, is one of the most important tasks of computational pragmatics.


There has been a great amount of discussion on the boundary between semantics and pragmatics [18] and there are many different formalizations of aspects of pragmatics linked to context dependence. Particularly interesting cases are the discussions on the semantics of indexicals and the problem of referential descriptions, a topic developed after the theories of Keith Donnellan.

The presentation of a formal treatment of pragmatics appears to be a development of the Fregean idea of assertion sign as formal sign of the act of assertion. Pragmatics more specifically, Speech Act Theory 's notion of the performative underpins Judith Butler 's theory of gender performativity. In Gender Trouble , she claims that gender and sex are not natural categories, but socially constructed roles produced by "reiterative acting. In Excitable Speech she extends her theory of performativity to hate speech and censorship , arguing that censorship necessarily strengthens any discourse it tries to suppress and therefore, since the state has sole power to define hate speech legally, it is the state that makes hate speech performative.

Jacques Derrida remarked that some work done under Pragmatics aligned well with the program he outlined in his book Of Grammatology. They draw three conclusions from Austin: 1 A performative utterance does not communicate information about an act second-hand, but it is the act; 2 Every aspect of language "semantics, syntactics, or even phonematics" functionally interacts with pragmatics; 3 There is no distinction between language and speech.

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This last conclusion attempts to refute Saussure's division between langue and parole and Chomsky's distinction between deep structure and surface structure simultaneously. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Branch of linguistics.

Concepts of Pragmatics by on Prezi

This article is about the subfield of linguistics. For the journal, see Pragmatics journal. Not to be confused with Pragmatic. Outline History Index. Grammatical theories. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Main article: Ambiguity. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources.

April Learn how and when to remove this template message. Main articles: Performative utterance and Speech act theory. Main article: Jakobson's functions of language. Linguistics portal. Oxford: Blackwell 2nd ed. Retrieved Archived from the original on 7 March Retrieved 18 March Archived from the original PDF on Archived from the original on April 9, Retrieved October 17, Studying Popular Music , p. Philadelphia: Open University Press. Introduction to Language. Boston, Ma. A Thousand Plateaus. There are short intellectual biographies of key thinkers, and a list of key works for further reading.

Introduction: What Is Pragmatics? Key Thinkers 3. Key Terms 4. Key Works. Highlights include a wide-ranging, accurate and fair-minded introduction to the main current approaches to pragmatics, illuminating and entertaining intellectual biographies of key thinkers in the field, and concise characterisations and illustrations of every term in pragmatics that you might ever have wondered about. Essential reading for students and researchers in pragmatics, linguistics, philosophy of language and psychology of communication.