What is Pragmatic Linguistics?

Pragmatic is a subfield of linguistics that examines the way language is used in social contexts. It looks at things such as irony and metaphor to determine what words mean in different circumstances.

It is one of seven linguistic frameworks that build the foundation for understanding language (phonetics, phonology, morphology, grammar, syntax, semantics and pragmatics). Each has its own distinct focuses but all share the same basic goal: to understand how language is used in society.


Semantics deals with the linguistic aspects of words and expressions such as their grammatical rules, meanings and modes of combination. It is traditionally considered the most specialized part of linguistics.

The word “pragmatic” comes from the Greek ‘pragmatikos’, which means “relating to or designed for use in conversation”. It is also associated with the philosophy of language.

Linguists who specialize in this field are called pragmaticians.

Pragmatic theory is based on the assumption that language functions as a tool for social communication and that people’s intentions can be determined by hearers. This implies that the speaker’s intentions can be understood by hearers without relying on their phonetics or grammatical form of an utterance.

This has been shown to be a fairly successful model for language development in children. Although it is a fairly complex model, it has been shown to be able to explain some of the language acquisition process, including learning to speak and comprehend new words.

Unlike semantics, which focuses on the literal meaning of a word, pragmatic theory takes into account the social context that the utterance is being used in. It looks at things such as irony, metaphor and intention to determine what words mean in different circumstances.

A major area of study in pragmatics is reference resolution. This is how a computer determines what object a given word refers to.

It is a key area of computational linguistics and artificial intelligence. It aims to develop methods for communicating human intentions to computers with as little ambiguity as possible.

The theory is based on the concept of conversational implicature, which is when a word implies something to someone else and they are unable to explain what it means. This is a very common phenomenon in many languages and can be useful for understanding how other cultures use language.

However, some people have argued that it is not necessarily true to assume that everyone can understand what an utterance means. This is largely due to the fact that it can take some time to get a clear understanding of what someone means.

Similarly, it can be difficult to interpret an utterance in which a person is using slang or a particular dialect of their native language. This can be a problem for many people who are trying to learn a new language.

Another major area of research in pragmatics is the role of ambiguity in determining what an utterance means. This can be a problem for many speakers and can lead to misinterpretation. It is important to understand ambiguity and how it is resolved in order to avoid it.