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Pragmatics - Essay Example

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The origin of the term pragmatics came from a philosopher named Charles Morris whom devised three different branches of the general shape of a science of signs or semiotics (Levinson, 1983:1). According to him, the branches are syntactic or "the study of formal relation of signs to one other," semantics or "the study of the relationship of signs to the objects to which the signs are applicable," and pragmatics or "the study of the relation of signs to interpreters."
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Download file to see previous pages But there has been an inclination to use pragmatics as a division of linguistic semiotics instead of pertaining it generally as sign systems. Another philosopher and logician named Carnap have made his own narrowing version of Morris' three branches of semiotics. It is within the field of pragmatics when the speaker receives open reference in an investigation. It is within the field of semantics when we extract from the user of the language and examine the expressions and their meanings. Finally, it is within the field of syntax when we extract from their meanings and analyze only the relations between the expressions. This trichotomy version of Morris' was the most influential (Levinson, 1983:3).
Pragmatics was thought to be "the study of aspects of language that required reference to the users of the language that led to a very natural, further restriction of the term in analytical philosophy (Levinson, 1983:4). The study of deictic or indexical words such as I and you is one aspect that requires that kind of reference. There is also a view that pragmatics is the study of languages, both natural and artificial that contained indexical and deictic terms. However, an implicit version of Carnap's definition in 1960s was embraced by the movement of the generative semantics which means the investigations requiring reference to the users of a language. The history of that movement expects a historian of ideas concerning pragmatics that involves the rebirth of interest in meaning. In this period, the range of pragmatics was completely restricted to investigations that contain at least potential linguistic inferences.
Definitions of pragmatics
Pragmatics is the "study of language usage" while syntax is the "study of the combinatorial properties of words and their parts" and semantics is the "study of meaning" (Levinson, 1983:5). But the term pragmatics covers both context-dependent aspects of language structure and principles of language usage and understanding. There are actually various definitions of pragmatics that has continuously been improved. The first definition states that "Pragmatics is the study of those relations between language and context that are grammaticalized, or encoded in the structure of a language" (Levinson, 1983:9). In other words, pragmatics is the study of the aspects of the relationship between language and context that are useful in writing grammar. But the problem with this definition is that it excludes the principles of language usage and the very significant implications called conversational implicatures (Levinson, 1983:10). This means that the related fields such as sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics are also excluded from pragmatics. However, the only main strength of this definition is that it restricted the field to entirely linguistic matters. It handled the feature of pragmatics concerned with language usage but not the part about the principles of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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