Example semantics and pragmatics
A branch of linguistics concerned with the use of language in social contexts and the ways in which people produce and comprehend meanings through language. (For alternative definitions, see Examples and Observations, below.)
The term pragmatics was coined in the 1930s by the philosopher C.W. Morris. Pragmatics was developed as a subfield of linguistics in the 1970s.
See Examples and Observations below.
- Alternative Definitions of Pragmatics
"We have considered a number of rather different delimitations of the field [of pragmatics]. . . . The most promising are the definitions that equate pragmatics with 'meaning minus semantics, ' or with a theory of language understanding that takes context into account, in order to complement the contribution that semantics makes to meaning. They are not, however, without their difficulties, as we have noted. To some extent, other conceptions of pragmatics may ultimately be consistent with these. For example. . . the definition of pragmatics as concerned with encoded aspects of context may be less restrictive than it seems at first sight; for if in general (a) principles of language usage have as corollaries principles of interpretation, and (b) principles of language usage are likely in the long run to impinge on grammar (and some empirical support can be found for both propositions), then theories about pragmatic aspects of meaning will be closely related to theories about the grammaticalization of aspects of context. So the multiplicity of alternative definitions may well seem greater than it really is."
(Stephen C. Levinson, pragmatics. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1983)
"It should be noted that, outside the USA, the term pragmatics is often used in a much broader sense, so as to include a great number of phenomena that American linguists would regard as belonging strictly to sociolinguistics: such as politeness, narrativity, and the signaling of power relations."
(R.L. Trask, Language and Linguistics: The Key Concepts, 2nd ed., ed. by Peter Stockwell. Routledge, 2007)
You Know My Steez: An Ethnographic and Sociolinguistic Study of Styleshifting in a Black American Speech Community (Publication of the American Dialect Society)
Book (Duke University Press Books)