What is Pragmatics?

Pragmatics is a branch of linguistics that deals with the social and contextual interpretation of language. It examines the ways that meaning is conveyed through a speaker’s nonverbal communication as well as their lexical choices. It also considers the effect that these elements have on how their utterance is received and understood by their interlocutors. Pragmatics is not an objective science, but rather a framework for understanding how the world works and how people communicate in it.

The word pragmatic is derived from the Latin verb pragma, which means “to do.” A pragmatist is someone who takes practical considerations into account when making decisions or taking action. They tend to be more hard-headed than idealistic and prefer more explanatory models for how things work. A pragmatist would agree with Oscar Wilde that “only shallow people judge by appearances.”

There are many different theories in pragmatics, and most of them take into account the social and cultural context of a communicative situation. For instance, some pragmatic theories take into account the way that a person’s emotional state can affect their grammatical choice and how they interpret a certain utterance. Other pragmatic theories focus on how a person’s beliefs, attitudes, and values can influence their communication style and how they understand an utterance.

A good example of how pragmatics differs from other branches of linguistics is how it incorporates the use of demonstrative adjectives like these, that, and there. These are words that are completely dependent on context, and they don’t make sense at all without a clear example of their usage.

It is important for English language teachers to teach their students about pragmatics because, in many cases, a person’s ability to communicate depends on their pragmatic awareness. For example, a teacher might create an activity that allows learners to practice their pragmatic skills by using different greetings in various contexts with different partners.

While there is no one best way to teach pragmatics, it is generally recommended that teachers incorporate a pragmatic component into their existing lesson plans or design specific tasks that address this topic. Ideally, the task should be aimed at raising learners’ awareness, include explicit instruction, and provide opportunities for learners to interact with it using their preferred learning strategies.

If you’re looking for an interesting and engaging way to introduce or reinforce pragmatics in your classroom, check out the article “Luck of the Draw (Pragmatics)” by Amy Hanna. It contains a fun, interactive game that gives students the opportunity to practice their pragmatic skills in a variety of settings with different partners and with varying contexts. It’s a great way to show students that the world is full of ambiguity, and that their knowledge of pragmatics can help them disambiguate those ambiguities and communicate more effectively. So go ahead and give it a try! Just don’t forget to wear a helmet.