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Yule

Yule

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03/18/2014

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\u201cPragmatics\u201d - Yule.
1. Definitions and background.

Pragmatics is concerned with the study of meaning as communicated by a speaker or writer and interpreted by a listener or reader. It has consequently more to do with the analysis of what people mean by their utterances than what the words or phrases in those utterances might mean by themselves. Pragmatics is the study of speaker

meaning.

This type of study necessarily involves the interpretation of what people mean in a particular context and how the context influences what is said.

Pragmatics is the study of contextual meaning.

This approach also necessarily explores how listeners can make inferences abt what is said in order to arrive at an interpretation of the speaker\u00b4s intended meaning.

Pragmatics is the study of how more gets communicated than is said.

This perspective then raises the question of what determines the choice bet the said and the unsaid. The basic answer is tied to the notion of distance. Closeness, whether it is physical, social, or conceptual, implies shared experience. On the assumption of how close or distant the listener is, speakers determine how much needs to be said.

Pragmatics is the study of the expression of relative distance.
Syntax, semantics and pragmatics.

Syntax is the study of the relationships bet linguistic forms, how they are arranged in sequence, and which sequences are well \u2013 formed. This type of study generally takes place without considering any world of reference or any user or the forms.

Semantics is the study of the relationships bet linguistic forms and
entities in the world: how words literally connect to things.

Pragmatics is the study of the relationships bet linguistic forms and the users of those forms. Only pragmatics allows humans into the analysis. One can talk abt people\u00b4s inteneded meanings, their assumptions, their purposes or goals, and the kinds of actions (for example: requests) that they are performing when they speak. The big disadvantage is that these very human concepts are extremely difficult to analyse in a consistent and objective way.

Regularity.

Luckily, people tend to behave in fairly regular ways when it comes to using language. Some of that regularity derives from the fact that people are members of social groups and follow general patterns of behaviour expected within the group, we normally find it easy to be polite and say appropriate things. In a new, unfamiliar social setting, we are often unsure abt what to say and worry that we might say the wrong thing.

Another source of regularity in language use is the fact that most people within a linguistic community have similar knowledge. For example:

If I say: \u201cI found an old bycycle lying on the ground. The chain was rusted and the tires were flat\u201d. I can normally assume that you will make thae inference that if X is a bicycle, then X has a chain and tires and many other regular parts.

6. Speech acts and events.

Actions performed via utterances are generally called speech acts, and in English, are commonly given more specific labels, such as apology, complaint, compliment, invitation, promise, or request.

Both speaker and hearer are usually helped in this process by the circumstances surrounding the utterance. These circumstances, including other utterances, are called the speech events. In many ways, it is the nature of the speech event taht determines the interpretation of an utterance as performing a particular speech act.

Speech acts.

On any occasion, the action performed by producing an utterance will consist of three related acts. There is first a locutionary act, which is the basic act of utterance, or producing a meaningul linguistic expression.

E.g: I\u00b4ve just made some coffee.

Mostly we don\u00b4t just produce well-formed utterances with no purpose. We form an utterance with some kind of function in mind. This is the second dimension, or the illocutionary act. The illocutionary act is performed via the communicative force of an utterance. We might utter the sentence above to make a statement, an offer, an explanation, or for some other communicative purpose. This is also generally known as the illocutionary force of the utterance.

We do not, of course, simply create an utterance with a function
without intending it to have an effect. This is the third dimension, the
perlocutionary act. Depending on the circumstances, you will utter
that sentence on the assumption that the hearer will recognise the
effect you intended. This is also generally known as the
perlocutionary effect.
Of these three dimensions, the most discussed is illocutionary force,
or also `what count as\u00b4, the intended meaning of the utterance.
Felicity conditions.

There are certain expected or appropriate circumstances, technically known as felicity conditions, for the performance of a speech act to be recognised as intended.

In everyday contexts among ordinary people, there are also pre- conditions on speech acts. There are general conditions on the participants, for example, that they can understand the language being used and that they are no play-acting or being nonsensical. Then there are content conditions. For example, for both a promise and a warning, the content of the utterance must be abt a future event.

The preparatory conditions for a promise are significantly different from those for a warning. When I promise to do something, there are two preparatory conditions: first, the event will not happen by itself, and second, the event will have a beneficial effect.

Related to these conditions is the sincerity condition that, for a promise, the speaker genuinely intends to carry out the future action, and, for a warning, the speaker genuinely believes that the future event will not have a beneficial effect. Finally, there is theessential

condition, which covers the fact that by the act of uttering a

promise, I thereby intend to create an obligation to carry out the action as promised. This essential condition thus combines with a specification of what must be in the utterance content, the context, and the speaker\u00b4s intentions in order for a specific speech act to be appropriately (fellitously) performed.

The performative hypothesis.

One way to think abt the speech acts being performed via utterances is to assume that underlying every utterance there is a clause containing a performative verb which makes the illocutionary force explicit.

Eg: Clean up this mess!
[primary
performatives]
(I hereby order you to clean up this mess.)
[explicit
performatives]

The advantage of this type of analysis is that it makes clear just what elements are involved in the production and interpretation of utterances.

There are some technical disadvantages to the performative hypothesis. For example, uttering the explicit performative version of a command has a much more serious impact than uttering the implicit version. The two versions are consequently not equivalent. It

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