Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Although pragmatics is a relatively new branch of linguistics, research on it can be dated back to ancient Greece and Rome where the term pragmaticus’ is found in late Latin and pragmaticos’ in Greek, both meaning of being practical’. Modern use and current practice of pragmatics is credited to the influence of the American philosophical doctrine of pragmatism. The pragmatic interpretation of semiotics and verbal communication studies in Foundations of the Theory of Signs by Charles Morris (1938), for instance, helped neatly expound the differences of mainstream enterprises in semiotics and linguistics. For Morris, pragmatics studies the relations of signs to interpreters’, while semantics studies the relations of signs to the objects to which the signs are applicable’, and syntactics studies the formal relations of signs to one another.’ By elaborating the sense of pragmatism in his concern of conversational meanings, Grice (1975) enlightened modern treatment of meaning by distinguishing two kinds of meaning, natural and non-natural. Grice suggested that pragmatics should centre on the more practical dimension of meaning, namely the conversational meaning which was later formulated in a variety of ways (Levinson, 1983; Leech, 1983). 

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