1. DEFINITIONS AND BACKGROUND
• “The study of contextual meaning communicated
by a speaker or writer, and interpreted by a
listener or reader.” (G.Yule)
• “The study of the relation of signs to their
interpreters.” (Charles Morris)
• “The study of the relations between linguistic
forms and its users(…)Only pragmatics allows
humans into the analysis: their assumptions,
purposes, goals, and actions they perform while
1- THE STUDY OF SPEAKER MEANING
WHAT PEOPLE MEAN by their utterances
rather than what the words or phrases might
mean by themselves.
2- The study of contextual meaning
• Importance of the CONTEXT: the
circumstances and the audience or public.
3-The study of how more gets
communicated than said.
• The INFERENCES made by listeners or readers
in order to arrive at an interpretation of the
• A great deal of what is UNSAID is recognized
as part of what is communicated.
• The study of “invisible meaning”
4-The study of the expression of
• The CLOSENESS or DISTANCE of the listener or
reader determines how much needs to be said.
A: there is a store over there (Let‘s go inside)
B: no (I don‘t want to go inside)
A: why not? (why do you not want to go inside?)
B: I‘m tired. (I don‘t want to because I‘m tired.)
IN OTHER WORDS…
PRAGMATICS studies HOW PEOPLE MAKE SENSE OF
EACH OTHER LINGUISTICALLY.
A: So_ did you?
B: Hey_ who wouldn’t?
Two friends in a conversation may imply some
things and infer some others without providing
any clear linguistic evidence. So, pragmatics
requires us to make sense of what people have in
• Luckily, people tend to behave in fairly REGULAR
ways when it comes to using language. As part of
social groups we follow general expected patterns
For example: “I found an old bike. The chain was
rusted and the tyres flat”.
It would be pragmatically odd to say:
“I found an old bike. A bike has a chain. The chain
was rusted. A bike aslo has tyres. The tyres were
2.DEIXIS and DISTANCE
• DEIXIS: “pointing via
To accomplish this
pointing we use deictic
i.e: “What’s that?” (used
to indicate sth. in the
depend on the
hearer sharing the
context, in face-to
Types of indexicals
Person deixis: used to point people. (me, you)
Spatial deixis: used to point location (here,
Temporal dexis: used to point location in time
i.e: “I’ll put this here, ok?”
There are 3 categories:
• SPEAKER (I)
• ADDRESSEE (YOU)
• OTHERS (HE- SHE-IT- THEY)
SOCIAL DEIXIS: forms used to indicate relative
social status. In many languages deictic categories
become markers of relative social status.
HONORIFICS: expressions that mark that the
addressee is of higher status.
Examples of SOCIAL DEIXIS
In Spanish the “Tú”- “Usted” distinction.
• The choice of one form will communicate
something, not directly said, about the speaker’s
view of his relation with the addressee.
• The higher, older and more powerful speaker will
tend to use the “tú” and viceversa.
• Nowadays, the age distinction remains more
powerful than the economic distinction in many
Using the 3rd person form
• Communicates distance • Also used to make
Also, it has an ironic or
“Somebody didn’t clean
up after himself” (less
i.e: Would his highness like
direct than “You didn’t
Forms used to point to
i.e: “Here” and “There”
“Come” and “Go”
When speakers mark how
close or distant something
is perceived to be.
i.e: “That man over there”
DEICTIC PROJECTION: when
speakers act as if they are
i.e: “I´m not here now.”
Recording is a performance for
a future audience in which I
project my presence to be
in the required location.
Forms used to point to location in time.
i.e: “now” - “then”
In contrast to now, the distal expression then
applies to both past and future time relative
to the speaker’s present time.
i.e: “I was in Scotland then”
“I’ll see you then”
DEIXIS AND GRAMMAR
The distinctions for person, spatial, and
temporal deixis can be seen at work in English
grammar structures such as DIRECT and
i.e: Are you planning to be here this evening? –
I asked her.
• I asked her if she was planing to be there that
There’ s a shift from the “near speaker”
meaning of direct speech to the “away from
speaker” meaning of reported speech, with
the use of DISTAL DEICTIC forms.
3. REFERENCE AND INFERENCE
REFERENCE: an act in which a speaker or writer,
uses linguistic forms to enable a listener or
reader, to identify something.
Words in themselves do not refer anything. People
REFERRING EXPRESSIONS: linguistic forms like
proper nouns, definite or indefinite noun phrases,
The choice of one type of these expressions rather
than another is based on what the speaker
assumes the listener already knows.
“Look at him” (use of pronoun)
“The woman in red” (definite article)
“A woman was looking at you” (indefinite article
So, reference is tied to the speaker’s goals
and beliefs about the listener knowledge in
the use of language.
• For successful reference to occur, we must
recognize the role of INFERENCE and
COLLABORATION between speaker and listener
in thinking what the other has in mind.
Sometimes we use vague expressions relying on the
listener’s ability to infer what referent we have in
i.e: “The blue thing”, “That stuff”
We sometimes even invent names.
A conventional association between a person’s
name and a kind of object within a socioculturally defined community.
i.e: “Can I borrow your Shakespeare?”
“Picasso’s on the far wall”
Given the context, the intended and inferred
referent is not a person but probably a book.
THE ROLE OF CO-TEXT
Co- text: the linguistic environment in which a
word is used.
The co-text clearly limits our range of possible
interpretations we might have for a word.
i.e: “Brazil wins World Cup”
Brazil would be the referring expression, and the
rest of the sentence the co-text.
• Just a linguistic part
of the environment
in which a referring
expression is used.
• The physical
which a word is
GUESS THE CONTEXT FOR THESE
• “Your ten-thirty just cancelled.”
• The heart-attack mustn’t be moved”
• “A couple of rooms have complained about the
The expressions used to maintain reference to
something or someone already mentioned.
i.e: “A man was looking at us. He then
The initial reference is often indefinite (A man…)
and is called the ANTECEDENT.
The subsequent reference is definite or a
prononun (He…) and is called ANAPHORA.
5. MAXIMS of the COOPERATIVE
Make your contribution as INFORMATIVE as
required. Do NOT make it more informative
Make your contribution TRUE. Do NOT say what
you believe is false. Do NOT say that for which
you lack adequate evidence.
3- RELATION: Be relevant.
4- MANNER: Be perspicuous:
• Avoid obscurity of expression
• Avoid ambiguity.
• Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity)
• Be orderly.
These maxims should be recognized as
unstated assumptions we have in
However, there are certain expressions speakers
use to mark that they may be in danger of
NOT fully adhering to the principles.
HEDGES: cautious notes about how an utterance
should be taken when giving information.
EXAMPLES OF HEDGES:
• Hedges of QUALITY:
“ As far as I know, they’re married.”
“I may be mistaken, but I thought I saw a
wedding ring on her finger.”
“I’m not sure if this is right, but I heard it was a
“He couldn’t live without her, I guess”
HEDGES OF QUANTITY:
“ As you probably know, I’m terrified of bugs”
“ So, to cut a long story short, we grabbed our
staff and run”
“I won’t bore you with all the details, but it was
an exciting trip”
HEDGES OF RELEVANCE
• “ I don’t know if this is important, but…”
• “This may sound like a dumb question, but…”
• Not to change the subject, but…”
• “ Oh, by the way…”
• Well, anyway…”
HEDGES OF MANNER
“This may be a bit confused, but…”
“I’m not sure if this makes sense, but…”
“I don’t know if this is clear at all, but…”
• The basic assumption in conversation is that,
otherwise indicated, the participants are
adhering to the cooperative principle and the
• The following examples show a speaker
conveying more than he said via
a: “I hope you brought the bread and cheese.”
b: “Ah, I brought the bread.”
• Speaker B assumes that A infers
that what is not mentioned was not brought.
a: “Do you like ice-cream?”
b: “Is the Pope catholic?”
• In contrast to the previous implicatures, these
ones are NOT based on the cooperative
• They do NOT have to occur in conversation
and don’t depend on special contexts for
• They are associated with SPECIFIC WORDS
and result in additional conveyed meanings.
For example: the English conjunctions
BUT and AND
The interpretation of any utterance with the word
BUT will imply an implicature of CONTRAST and
with AND an ADDITION.
“Mary suggested black, but I chose white”.
• The words EVEN and YET also have conventional
• Even implies contrary to expectation.
• Yet implies that the present situation is expected
to be differerent at a later time.
6. SPEECH ACTS and EVENTS
• Actions performed via utterances are called
In English they are commonly known as: apology,
compliment, complaint, invitation, promise, or
request and apply to the speaker’s
• The circumstances surrounding the utterance are
called the Speech Event and it’s their nature that
determines the interpretation of an utterance as
performing a particular speech act.
“This tea is really cold!”
This utterance can be interpreted as a complaint
or as a praise, depending on the
circumstances. (If it is winter or summer, a
cold or a hot day, etc.)
1- The locutionary act: the basic act of
utterance which produces a meaningful
If you have difficulty in producing a meaningful
utterance (because it’s a foreign language or
you’re tongue-tied), then you might fail to
produce a locutionary act.
2. ILLOCUTIONARY ACT
• The communicative force of an utterance. We
form an utterance with some kind of function
An offer, a statement, a promise, a threat, etc.
3. THE PERLOCUTIONARY ACT:
The effect of an utterance
Take the next utterance and state the
“ I’ll see you later”
The same locutionary act can represent
different illocutionary forces:
How can the speaker assume that the
intended illocutionary force wil be
recognized by the hearer?
IFIDs: Illocutionary Force
The most common IFIDs
Certain expected or appropiate
are performative verbs:
circumstances for a speech
verbs that explicitly
act to be recognized as
name the illocutionary
act being performed.
i.e: “ I sentence you to six
i.e: “I promise you that…”
“I warn you that…”
“I predict that…”
months of prison”
If the speaker wasn’t a judge in a
court, this performance
would be infelicitous or
i.e: “You’re going!” (I tell
“You’re going?”( I
“Are you going?”( I ask
Conditions: on the
example, that they can
understand the same
language, and that
they aren’t play-acting
or being non-sensical.
example, a promise
must be about a
Preparatory Conditions: specific requirements
prior to an utterance in order for it to count as a
particular speech act.
Sincerity conditions: requirements on the
genuine intentions of a speaker.
For example: for a promise, the speaker
genuinely intends to carry out the future
The essential Condition:
A requirement that the utterance commits the
speaker to the act performed.
The utterance changes my state from nonobligation to obligation.
Speech Act Classification
1- DECLARATIONS: speech acts that change the world via
an utterance. The speaker has to have a specific role, in
a specific context, in order to perform a declaration
• “I now pronounce you husband and wife” (Priest)
• “You’re out” (referee)
2- REPRESENTATIVES: speech acts that state what
the speaker believes to be the case or not.
Statements of fact, assertions, conclusions,
• “The Earth is flat.”
• “Chomsky didn’t write about peanuts”.
3- EXPRESSIVES: speech acts that state
what the speaker feels.
They express psychological states and can be
statements of pleasure, pain, likes, dislikes,
joy, or sorrow.
• “I’m really sorry!”
4- DIRECTIVES: speech acts used to get
someone else to do sth.
They express what the speaker wants. They are:
commands, orders, requests, suggestions.
They can be positive or negative.
• “Gimme a cup of coffee. Make it black”.
• “Don’t touch that”.
• “Could you lend me a pen, please?”
5- COMMISSIVES: speech acts used by speakers
to commit themselves to some future action.
They are: promises, threats, refusals, pledges,
• “ I’ll be back”.
• “We are going to get it right next time.”
• “We won’t do that”.
DIRECT AND INDIRECT SPEECH ACTS
• DIRECT: when there’s a direct relationship
between the structure (declarative,
interrogative, imperative) and its
communicative function (statement, question,
• INDIRECT: Indirect relation between the
structure and function.
Example of indirect speech acts:
• “Move out of the way!” – (the only direct
• “Do you have to stand in front of the T.V?”(A
question functioning as an indirect command)
• “You’re standing in front of the T.V!”.( a
declarative functioning as an indirect request)
7. POLITENESS and INTERACTION
• A linguistic interaction is necessarily a social
• We take part in a wide range of interactions,
mostly with strangers, where the social
distance determined by external factors is
• However, there are other factors, like amount
of imposition or degree of friendliness, which
are often negotiated.
• “Polite social behaviour” within a culture. We
assume that participants in an interaction are
generally aware of such cultural norms and
principles of politeness.
Face: the public self-image of a person. It refers to
that emotional and social sense of self that
everyone has and expects the other sto
Politeness in an interaction can be defined as the
means employed to show awareness of another
Examples of social distance: respect or
“Excuse, Mr. Buckingham, can I talk to you for a
Social closeness: friendliness,
camaraderie, or solidarity.
“Hey, Bucky, got a minute?”
Face Wants: A person’s expectations that their
pulic self-image will be respected.
• If a speaker says sth. that represents a threat
to another individual’s expectations, regarding
self-image, it’s described as a facethreatening act.
• When someone says an utterance that avoids
a potential threat t a person’s face, it’s called
A: “I’m going to tell him to stop that awful noise right
now!!” (Face-threatening act)
B: “Perhaps you could just ask him if he’s going to stop
because it’s getting late and we need to sleep…”
(Face- saving act)
Self and Other: Say nothing
Imagine you arrive at a lecture but you’ve
forgotten a pen to take your notes. You think
that teh person next to you may provide the
In this scenario, you’re going to be SELF, and the
person next to you OTHER.
You: (look in bag, rummage in, search in
The Other: “Here, use this.”
That was called a “Say nothing
• Without uttering a word, you have the
intention that your problem will be
• Many people prefer to have their needs
recognized by others wihout having to express
those needs in langauge.
• When those needs are in fact recognized,
more has been communicated than was said.
Say something: Off and On record
“Uh, I forgot my pen”
“Hmm, I wonder where I put my pen”
These statements are not directly addressed t
the other. The other can act as if they have not
even been heard.
Off record expressions: utterances not
directly addressed t another one.
On record experssions: are direct
“Give me a pen”
“Lend me your pen”
These are known as bald on record- they’re the
most direct approach, like the use of
Would you lend me a pen, please?” Here we use
mitigating devices, like would and please, that
soften the demand.