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Transcript of Pragmatics
The study of how people use language within a context and why people use language in a particular way. In pragmatics, context is divided into four sub-parts: physical, epistemic, linguistic, and social Physical Context: refers to where the conversation takes place, what objects are present, and what actions are taken Epistemic Context: refers to the background knowledge shared by the speakers and the listeners Linguistic Context: refers to things that were said previous to the utterances under consideration. Social Context: refers to the social relationship and setting of the speakers and listeners Scenario:
A pastor called all the children in his congregational church and began his sermon:
"Children, I'm thinking of something that is about five or six inches high; that scampers across the ground; that can climb trees; that lives in either a nest in the tree or makes its home in a hollowed out portion of a tree trunk. That thing I'm thinking about gathers nuts and stores them in winter. It is sometimes brown and sometimes gray. It has a big bushy tail. Who can tell me what I'm thinking of?"
So Robert replies: "Well ordinarily, I'd think it was a squirrel, but i suppose you want me to say it was Jesus." Speech Act: when we use language to not only say things, but also to perform acts. Grice's Conversational Maxims conversations are governed by four cooperative principles, or conversational maxims
When speakers intentionally violate the maxim they are "flouting the maxim"
Speakers may flout for various reasons Maxim of Quantity Make your contribution as informative as is required
Do not make your contribution more informative than is required Maxim of Quality Say what you believe to be true
Make a claim based on sufficient evidence Maxim of Relevance Be relevant Maxim of Manner Avoid vague expressions
Avoid ambiguous expressions
Do not be excessively wordy Direct Speech Acts Speech acts that perform their functions in a direct and literal manner 5+7= (cc) image by anemoneprojectors on Flickr Sentence type Speech Act Function Declarative Interrogative Imperative Assertion Denial Question Lets Consider how these concepts apply to Roberts situation. Orders Conveys information Physical Context: Church Setting
Robert knows that squirrels are not normally talked about in a church setting Claims information is
true or false Elicits information Gets others to behave in
certain ways Linguistic Context: In Robert's mind he knows that the pastor is describing a squirrel. Let's look at some examples Epistemic Context: Robert then concludes that the pastor is expecting him to say "Jesus" since they are in a church setting. John has a red truck.
Who switched off the light?
Please Stand in line.
I did not let the cat in the house
Be careful, the plate is hot. Social Context: Robert also knows that he has to behave and show proper respect for the pastor. Robert then phrases his response politely, which is another example of linguistic context. Indirect Speech Acts Speech acts not performed in a direct, literal manner.
What the speaker intends is different from what is literally said. For example:
"It's cold in here"
"Can I go to the bathroom?" Example:
Julie:"Hey, guess what? I received an email from the President of the United States yesterday.
Jenny:"Oh, yeah, and the First Lady sent me an invitation to their daughter's wedding. Example:
Mother:"Finish your food, Sam."
Sam:"I want to play with my car."
Mother:"Yes, you can play with your car
after you finish your food."
Sam:"I have a yellow car, a green car, a blue car, a red car..." Example:
Many politicians flaunt the maxim of manner
in that they are excessively wordy. Cross-Cultural Pragmatics Social rules governing language use may vary from culture to culture
Cultures may greet or compliment others in different ways
ESL students may try to transfer social rules from their first to second language Tips for Teaching Use scenarios or case studies to show how speakers use language within a specific context.
Use direct and literal statements to avoid confusion
Model to students how to correctly address teachers, peers, parents, and others using the typical pragmatics of American culture
Refrain from making judgements about ELL students if they say something confusing or awkward.
Encourage ELLs to interact with peers as much as possible. Consider the following
conversation between a child and parent: Parent: What are you doing?
Child: Nothing Which maxim does the child's response
appear to violate?
What can we infer from the child's
violation of the maxim? Examine the conversation between an English-speaking teacher and her Samoan student: Teacher: What a beautiful necklace!
Student: Thank you. (proceeds to take off her necklace) Please take this necklace. It is yours.
Teacher: Oh, no, I can't. You should keep something as beautiful as this. What does the student infer from the teacher's compliment?
What can you say about complimenting someone in both American and Somoan cultures? Jennifer Stevanus & Julie Valentine