What is Pragmatic?
Pragmatic is the study of the social aspects of communication and language. It is a subfield of linguistics and philosophy that has been developed since the 1930’s. It is a cross-disciplinary field of study that includes psychology, sociology, and anthropology. It examines how the context of an utterance contributes to meaning, and it is a more social-oriented branch of linguistics than semantics and syntax. People who specialize in pragmatics are called linguists and are sometimes referred to as pragmaticians.
A key element of pragmatics is the idea that words and sentences do not have a fixed meaning that can be discovered and then interpreted. Rather, the meaning of a word or sentence depends on how it is used in context by the speaker and the listener. The goal of pragmatics is to understand how these factors interact to produce the meaning that a speaker intends for an utterance to have.
For example, a teacher may use the term “taboo questions” in a classroom to discuss when it is appropriate to ask a question that is considered rude or inappropriate. This type of lesson plan allows students to gain a better understanding of the nuances of communication and how cultural differences can influence a person’s ability to communicate effectively. Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD, including Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) have trouble with pragmatics because they are often unaware of the unspoken rules of social interaction and therefore have a hard time following them. Understanding pragmatics may help these children learn how to successfully participate in social interaction and to express themselves appropriately, which can increase self-esteem and confidence in their abilities.
Another key aspect of pragmatics is the distinction between conventional or literal meaning and figurative or non-literal meaning. Some linguists have suggested that pragmatics deals mostly with the latter category of meaning, although others have argued that conventional or literal meaning is also a valid meaning that is part of the field of pragmatics.
It is important to note that the study of pragmatics overlaps with several other areas of linguistics and human communication, such as semiotics, phonology, morphology, and syntax. However, a major difference is that the study of pragmatics is focused on how context contributes to meaning, whereas other fields are more concerned with describing what a word means or how a sentence is constructed.
Some linguists have categorized the different properties of utterances into two broad categories: near-side and far-side pragmatics. Near-side pragmatics focuses on the nature of certain facts about a speech act that are relevant to its interpretation, such as the use of evidential markers to indicate that the information they are conveying is true or false. Far-side pragmatics is focused on the ways that a person’s beliefs and intentions, in addition to the speech acts themselves, influence the interpretation of an utterance.