What is Pragmatic Linguistics?

Pragmatic is the study of language as an instrument of interaction. Rather than looking at the meaning of words or the literal meaning of an utterance, it examines what the speaker intends to communicate and how that intention is interpreted. It is a branch of linguistics that incorporates other areas such as semantics, syntax, and semiotics.

A pragmatist believes that the world is always changing and that it is up to individuals to change it. As such, pragmatists believe that the goal of research should be to produce useful knowledge that can actually change the world (Patton 2002).

This philosophy promotes active learning in the classroom, where students are encouraged to apply concepts they learn to real-world situations. This allows students to retain information better and apply it in more meaningful ways.

For example, if a student learns about fractions in math class, they can practice their new skills by splitting a pizza evenly with friends. This type of practical application helps them understand the concept and remember it longer.

The pragmatist approach to research allows for the use of different methods, measures, and researchers. This differs from other research approaches that may be based on philosophical or theoretical beliefs. It also provides the flexibility to adapt the research process to the unique circumstances of a particular situation.

For instance, a pragmatist researcher may choose to combine quantitative and qualitative research techniques in order to get the best results. The pragmatist view of research prioritizes the research question and sidelines epistemological and ontological arguments, clearing the way for mixed-methods research (Bryman 2006).

A key component to a pragmatic approach is the belief that context is vital to understanding communication. The context in which an utterance is made and the speaker’s intentions determine the meaning of the utterance. For example, if someone says “I have two sons,” the implication is that they have no more than two children. However, if the person is responding to a question about how many children they have, the meaning changes.

Another factor to consider is culture. For example, some cultures have different expectations regarding eye contact or the amount of physical proximity needed when speaking to another person. These cultural differences are important to consider when teaching a language, as they can have a significant impact on communication.

If you are interested in learning more about the pragmatist approach to research, you can find a variety of resources online. There are also several books available that discuss the pragmatist philosophy and how it can be applied to research. The pragmatist perspective is especially helpful when conducting international research, as it can help to overcome differences in culture and customs. You can also learn more about pragmatism by participating in an international research project or visiting a linguistics lab to observe a group of foreign learners at work. During your visit, ask questions about the pragmatist philosophy and how you can incorporate it into your own research projects.