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Definitions and background

GENERAL INFORMATION
General Information:
Course Material: pdf-files at http://ifla.uni-stuttgart/~jilka
click on Introduction to Pragmatics
The class is based on the introductory books (both titled
Pragmatics) by George Yule and Stephen C. Levinson
Course Demands: analysis exercises
Final exam: July 19
Matthias Jilka
Room 4.051
Phone (0711) 685-8-3123 jilka@ifla.unistuttgart.de
Hauptseminar Introduction to Pragmatics http://ifla.uni-stuttgart.de/~jilka/index.html

Definitions and background


WHAT IS PRAGMATICS?
Pragmatics is the study of meaning as communicated by a speaker and interpreted
by a listener
it has more to do with the analysis of what people mean by their utterance than what the
words or phrases mean by themselves
> Pragmatics is the study of speaker meaning
what do people mean in a particular context and how the context influences what is said
consideration of how speakers organize what they want to say in accordance with who they
are talking to, where, when, and under what circumstances
> Pragmatics is the study of contextual meaning
how can listeners make inferences about what is said in order to arrive at an interpretation of
the speaker's intended meaning?
how can what is unsaid be recognized as part of what is communicated?
> Pragmatics is the study of how more is communicated than is said
what determines the choice of what is being said or unsaid?
decision based on the assumption of how distant the listener is (physical, social or conceptual
closeness implies shared experience)
Hauptseminar Introduction to Pragmatics http://ifla.uni-stuttgart.de/~jilka/index.html

Definitions and background


>

Pragmatics is the study of the expression of relative distance

SYNTAX, SEMANTICS AND PRAGMATICS


The traditional distinction in language analysis contrasts pragmatics with syntax and
semantics (attributable to the philosopher Charles Morris (1938) who was concerned to outline the
general shape of a science of signs or Semiotics)
Syntax =

study of the relationships between words and phrases, how they are arranged in
sequence, and which sequences are well-formed

Semantics =

study of the relationships between linguistic forms and entities in the world, i.e.
how words literally connect to things. Semantic analysis also attempts to establish
the relationships between verbal descriptions and states of affairs in the world as
accurate (true) or not, regardless of who produces that description

Pragmatics =

study of the relationships between linguistic forms and the users of those forms
only pragmatics allows humans into the analysis
+ it's possible to discuss people's intended meanings, assumptions, purposes or
goals and the kinds of actions they perform when speaking - difficulty of
consistent and objective analysis

Hauptseminar Introduction to Pragmatics http://ifla.uni-stuttgart.de/~jilka/index.html

Definitions and background


A: So ... did you?
B: Hey, who wouldn't?
no clear linguistic evidence allows pinpointing of meaning

REGULARITY
People behave fairly regularly when using language because as members of social groups
humans follow the general patterns of behavior expected within the group
In new, unfamiliar social setting we are often unsure about what to say and worry that we
might say the wrong thing
Example: In Saudi Arabia questions about ones health should not be answered with details, instead a
formulaic 'Praise to God is pragmatically appropriate

- people within a linguistic community have similar basic experiences of the world and share
a lot of non-linguistic knowledge

Hauptseminar Introduction to Pragmatics http://ifla.uni-stuttgart.de/~jilka/index.html

Definitions and background


I found an old bicycle lying on the ground. The chain was rusted and the tires were flat.

no need to ask why chain and tires are mentioned (knowledge about
bicycles)
I found an old bicycle. A bicycle has a chain. The chain was rusted. A
bicycle also has tires. The tires were flat.

> odd impression, one would assume more is communicated, e.g., that one
is thought to lack knowledge

THE PRAGMATICS WASTEBASKET I


General linguistic theory emphasizes the study of formal systems of analysis and the abstract
principles that lie at the core of language
Everyday language use is somewhat neglected, many observations on ordinary language use
are relegated to the "wastebasket"
> negative definition of pragmatics as dealing with things that are not easily
handled within formal systems of analysis Example analysis:

Hauptseminar Introduction to Pragmatics http://ifla.uni-stuttgart.de/~jilka/index.html

Definitions and background


The duck ran up to Mary and licked her
Syntax:

- rules that determine the correct structure


- exclude incorrect orderings ( *'Up duck mary to the ran' )
- show missing element at 'and __ licked her'
- no concern over whether ducks really lick people or if 'dog' is better than 'duck' (The bottle
of ketchup ran up to Mary' is also syntactically well-formed)

THE PRAGMATICS WASTEBASKET II


The duck ran up to Mary and licked her
Semantics: - 'ran up to' requires an animate subject ('bottle of ketchup' is not ok)
- truth conditions of the propositions expressed in sentences
The duck ran up to Mary AND The duck licked Mary
p
q
Two propositions (p, q) are joined by the logical connector AND: p & q
if p = true and q = true then p & q = true
if p = false and q = true then p & q = false if p = true and q = false then p & q =
false

Hauptseminar Introduction to Pragmatics http://ifla.uni-stuttgart.de/~jilka/index.html

Definitions and background


if p & q = true then q & p = true
Problem that in language use two actions connected by 'and' are interpreted as sequential not logical.

development of a regular pragmatic principle:


Interpret order of mention as a reflection of order of occurence

Hauptseminar Introduction to Pragmatics http://ifla.uni-stuttgart.de/~jilka/index.html