What Is Pragmatics?

Pragmatics is a study of how people use words and their meaning. In addition to the study of language, there are branches of pragmatics which address a range of topics including historical pragmatics, intercultural pragmatics, and speech act theory.

There are two main models of contemporary philosophical approaches to pragmatics. One model is formal semantics, which takes sentences and their contexts as given. The other is a more empirical approach focusing on the linguistic properties of utterances.

One of the more popular concepts in pragmatics is context. The word is all over the place. This term is a central feature of any talk about pragmatics. Interestingly, it is not entirely clear who originated the term. Many authors define it as a ‘what is said’ concept, whereas others see it as a more complex concept. It’s all about how language is used, interpreted, and understood in the contexts that it finds itself.

It’s a good idea to learn a bit about this subject. This is especially true if you’re planning to pursue a degree in it. It’s a field that involves a lot of theory, statistics, and practical application, so you’ll have to be prepared to put in the work. It’s also an area where the results of studies aren’t always what you’d expect. The outcome may depend on a number of factors that aren’t considered in the lab. For example, social norms and a lack of control over what is heard can influence outcomes.

A good way to start is by studying the basics of semantics and how it works. This includes an explanation of how the meaning of a sentence is determined and how the speaker’s plan supplements the incremental meaning. For instance, if the speaker wants to get someone’s attention, then he or she will likely raise their hand. However, if the speaker’s plan is to simply provide information, then the same word will be uttered.

The most comprehensive explanation of the same utterance might be provided by a formal semantics scheme. This involves deductive rules and derivation. It can take the form of Bayesian reasoning, induction, or inference to the best explanation.

Moreover, a more advanced version of this technique is called ampliative inference. It’s a special case of induction and goes beyond the rules to make inferences that are beyond the most basic facts. In other words, it’s about using the rules to make a more detailed and complex inference.

The most snazzy thing about this type of inference is that it is not limited to the literal. Instead, it can be used to make inferences about things that aren’t even directly related to the utterance. This is what makes it so intriguing.

The most notable and impressive of these is the hidden indexical, which is the claim that the content of a word isn’t really unarticulated, but it’s actually hidden in a word that isn’t even spoken. This is the first of its kind and a useful concept, but it can also be controversial. Some minimalists claim that it’s a clever and useful concept, while others argue that it’s a waste of time.