What is Pragmatics?

Throughout human history, people have used language to communicate. The ability to use language effectively in different situations and contexts is called pragmatics. Pragmatics is a field of study that investigates practical aspects of human thought and action. It seeks to discover and identify broad principles of communication. In particular, pragmatics focuses on the ways constraints interact.

Pragmatics is a fundamental part of the study of language. It is the basis of all language interactions. It involves the negotiation of meaning between a speaker and a listener. The study of pragmatics involves the study of spoken words and how they enact the resolution of different linguistic and bodily propensities. It also involves the study of implied meanings and meaning construction. It is often seen as a cross-disciplinary study.

The basic idea behind pragmatics is that the language used in interactions reflects the social context in which the interactions occur. People use language to respond to social norms and to follow social rules. For example, in class, children raise their hands to answer a question instead of shouting. In the same way, they follow rules governing body language, such as keeping eye contact with someone and using appropriate gestures. These rules also govern turn taking and reference of individuals in conversations.

Pragmatics is often used in instructional settings where learners are expected to use language in a particular way. In this context, the teacher comes up with a series of scenarios and then asks the students to choose an appropriate response. A good example of this type of instructional setting is a lesson on how to use different greetings and apology techniques. Using an activity called “Luck of the Draw” by Amy Hanna, the instructor can give the students practice expressing appropriate greetings and apology techniques in their own language, as well as in other languages.