Language schools » Linguistics » Pragmatics



In linguistics, pragmatics is concerned with bridging the explanatory gap between sentence meaning and speaker’s meaning. The study of how context influences the interpretation is then crucial. "Context" here must be interpreted as situation as it may include any imaginable extra-linguistic factor, including discourse, social, environmental, and psychological factors.

Methodology and presuppositions

Pragmatics is interested predominantly in utterances, made up of sentences, and usually in the context of conversations.

A distinction is made in pragmatics between sentence meaning and speaker meaning. Sentence meaning is the literal meaning of the sentence, while the speaker meaning is the concept that the speaker is trying to convey.

The ability to understand another speaker's intended meaning is called pragmatic competence.

Related fields

According to Charles W. Morris, pragmatics tries to understand the relationship between signs and interpretations, while semantics tends to focus on the actual objects or ideas that a word refers to, and syntax (or "syntactics") examines the relationship between signs.