Category: englishenglish

Culture and pragmatics in english language teaching




Introduction to Pragmatics
involving or emphasizing practical results, rather than theories
and ideas;
a practical way of thinking or dealing with problems that emphasizes
results and solutions more than theories;
the study of how languages is used in particular situations to
express a meaning or attitude that may not be obvious from actual
is study of how people use language, it also describes the connection
between language and human life, we use information from the
situation where the sentence is used


What does pragmatic mean?
Pragmatic means practical, especially when making decisions. The word
pragmatics is often contrasted with the word idealistic, which means based on
having high principals or ideas. Pragmatics on the other hand, means based on
real world conditions or circumstances considering what can realistically be
done as opposed to the best theoretical course of action. A person who acts
pragmatically can be called a pragmatist. The noun form of pragmatic
is pragmatism. Pragmatism can mean the practice of being pragmatic, but it can
also more specifically refer to the philosophical movement that emphasizes
practical consequences in the determination of meaning truth or value.
Example: we need a candidate who’s pragmatic and can get things done in the
real world – not some idealist who will never compromise.


Where does Pragmatic come from? How is Pragmatics used in real life?
Pragmatics means approaching towards a conclusion based on practical
approach rather than theory. Relating to a practical point of view or practical
considerations dealing with things sensibly and realistically is a way that is
based on practical, rather than theoretical solving problems in a sensible way
that that suits the conditions that really exit now rather than obtaining fixed
theories, ideas or rules. Let’s look at few examples to better understand the
use of pragmatics in business. Pragmatic approach to problems is often more
successful than an idealist. Mayer’s view of public education comes from
years of working in city schools he was appreciated for being practical and for
coming up with pragmatic solutions on various issues now we’ll look at few
synonyms and antonyms of pragmatic


matter of fact


One of the principles of linguistics that is Pragmatics
Linguistic has many branches such as phonology, morphology, semantics,
pragmatics, syntax, phonetics and the other principles. In this lecture we learn
focus on one linguistic branches that is Pragmatics. Basically Pragmatics is
the study of words and the relationship with the speakers of these words,
depending on the context. For clarity here is the definition of pragmatics
which is quote from George Yule’s book entitled Pragmatic which was in
Oxford University Press in 1996. G.Y. explained pragmatics in more detail
and he defines the definition of pragmatics into four.
For the one


• Pragmatics is the study of speaker meaning it means it’s concerned with the
study of meaning as a communicated by speaker/ writer and interpreted by
listener /reader;
• Pragmatics is the study of contextual meaning it means, Pragmatics involves
of interpretation of what people mean in particular context and how the context
influences what is said;
• Pragmatics is the study of how more gets communicated than is said. It
means Pragmatics explores how listeners can make inferences about what is
said in order to arrive at an interpretation of the speaker’s intended (invisible)


The last definition Pragmatics is the study of the explosion of relative distance. It is to
determine the choice between the said and unsaid it means how to close all the stains the
listener is and the speaker’s determine how much needs to be said.
For more clear, let’s take a look at these examples number 1. If someone asks: ‘’May I have
a glass of water?’’ The listener interprets that the speaker is thirsty.
2nd example you are at my place and I asked you “’Could you bring me a glass of water?
so, the utterances are not fitting the contacts, Why, because usually I will offer you
something drink at my place and not the other way around. So, you can see how the context
influences the meaning. For the next example is ‘’Can you pass the salt?” we know that the
Speaker isn’t asking. The listener is physically capable of passing the salt with our
knowledge of pragmatics and the context of both parts having dinner together. We can
conclude that the speaker is requesting the listener to pass the salt. If someone asks you
‘’please close the window the meaning of the person asking is may be that person is
freezing or that is the too noisy outside it is depending on the situation.


Perhaps some of you are confused between semantics and pragmatics.
I’ll explain the difference. Semantics has a more internal focus on the
meaning of the expression. Pragmatics has some more external focus on the
context and include meaning
internal language
focus on meaning of
external language
focuses on context
George Yule


Semantics versus Pragmatics.
Semantic meaning is part of our mental grammar determined by the
pure linguistic meaning of the words of a sentence and how those
words are combined together. Pragmatic meaning is mapped off of
semantic meaning contextually determined dependent on speaker’s
intentions a core tenet of pragmatics, is that we always pragmatically
communicate more than we semantically say. So, for example, if you
are at a friend’s house and the window is open and you say to your
friend ‘’it’s kind of cold here’’ you have semantically made an
observation about the temperature that it is relatively low in this place
but pragmatically you have asked your friend to close the window.


Steven Pinker on language pragmatics
So, why do people understand language so much better than computes? What is the knowledge
that we have that has been so hard to program into our machines well there is a third interface
between language and the rest of the mind and that is the subject matter of the branch of
linguistics called pragmatics. Namely
• how people use context and other information in order to understand language;
• how people understand language in context using the knowledge of the world and their
• the most important principle of pragmatics is called the co-operative principle,
namely assume that your conversational partner is working with you to try to get a meaning
across truthfully and clearly speech


◦ According to Celce-Murcia “Pragmalinguistics deals very explicitly
with the study of relationships holding between linguistic forms and the
human beings who use these forms”. Pragmatics is concerned with
people's intentions, assumptions, beliefs, goals, and the kind of actions
they perform while using language. Pragmatics is also concerned with
contexts, situations, and settings within which such language uses
occur". In language learning and usage, pragmatic and cultural
competence are closely related, and both require learners to "use
language in socio-culturally appropriate ways" One of the important
considerations in teaching L2 pragmatics is that socio-culturally and
contextually appropriate (or inappropriate) communication can take a
number of forms, e.g., there can be many pragmatically appropriate
ways to ask for information or schedule an appointment.


◦ In pragmatics, various sets of conventionalized, frequently repeated, and
routinized expressions are called speech acts. These are typically classified by
their pragmatic and communicative functions, such as requests, apologies,
compliments, complaints, etc.
◦ Speech acts can be direct or indirect, and thus vary in the degree of their
politeness or even comprehensibility. For example, upon hearing "Can you
help me with this problem?" an interlocutor might respond, "I’m a little busy
right now." This response is an indirect speech act, and it can mean, for
example, that the speaker is in a hurry and does not have much time available.
However, if the hearer does not fully grasp the pragmatic function of this
speech act as a refusal, then the speaker's communicative goal may not be
achieved. As Celce-Murcia &Olshtain (2000) note, the pragmatic context is
crucial for the speaker's meaning to be understood.


◦ Much research carried out in pragmatics and sociolinguistics over
the past several decades has focused on the socio-cultural norms
of politeness and appropriateness in performing various types of
speech acts. The linguistic and socio-pragmatic forms of specific
speech acts can be taught in the classroom to focus on routine and
conventionalized uses of language in context. The contextual
factors that invariably affect speech act realization and
interpretation include, as mentioned, the social status of the
speaker and the hearer, social distance between them, their ages,
genders, and the situation where the interaction takes place
(Celce-Murcia &Olshtain, 2000).


All languages have a set of pragmatic conventions about
language use. These conventions are social and cultural.
So, they differ from language to language, from country to
country and from culture to culture. It is important to learn
about the pragmatic conventions of English, so, as to be
able to make full use of the words you know, and to avoid
mistakes. People use language to do things (speech acts)
• Get other people to do things (request, order, persuade)
• Give information
• Express opinion
• Express emotions
• Make commitments (offer, promise, agree to do smth)


People also use language to help their social relationships. For example
when you ask someone to do smth for you, you usually want to do this
Politely. How to use words politely. ‘’Sorry to bother you’’ used for politely
asking to do smth for you, especially someone you do not know. ‘’Sorry to
bother you’’, but ‘’would you mind moving your bag?’
About impolite and rude language.
Politeness is often about taking care of emotion and feelings – your own
and other people’s. There are many expressions that tell someone
else that you are trying to take care of their feelings. ‘’If I may say so’’ used
for introducing a personal comment when you know that the person who you
are speaking to, may find this offensive: ‘What a very attractive dress,’ if I
may say so! To make a comment about someone else’s clothes, even a
positive one , could be impolite, especially if you do not know the person


‘If I may say so’ in this context, means ‘’I know I am saying smth
Attitude and feelings
Words and phrases can give information about people’s attitude
and feelings. ‘Don’t you forget it’ used for telling someone very
firmly how they should behave, esp when they have said or done
smth that you do not approve of: ‘Don’t call me Jim.’ I’m Mr. Parker
to you, and don’t you forget it!
One large area of difficulty for learners is that English has many
words phrases that appear to be neutral, but that in fact carry a
negative or positive connotation.


Or the same word can have a positive or a negative meaning, depending on the
situation in which it is used. Old-fashioned – no longer modern or fashionable
a) used in a negative way to refer to methods, attitudes, or machines that are
no longer useful or suitable in the modern world = outdated
b) used in a positive way to refer to nice things from the past that still exist:
Good old-fashioned home baking.
Vague language
Vague expressions allow speakers to give an appropriate amount of information
in a particular context. People are vague because they do not have precise
information or sometimes they are vague because precise information is not
needed. Anything used with numbers to show that you are not giving exact
information, but that any number is possible within the range you mention.
‘’A good diamond could cost anything from 10,000 to 300,000’’ it ‘s


Generalizing there fore cannot give exact amounts.


Thomas (1983) explains that violations of pragmatic and cultural
norms of appropriateness in interactions often lead to sociopragmatic
failure, uncomfortable breakdowns in communication, and the stereotyping
of non-native speakers. She notes that when many L2 learners display
inappropriate language behaviors, they are often not even aware that they
have done so. The teaching of interactional pragmatics in the L2 has to
include developing learners' heightened awareness of the socio-pragmatic
features of interaction so as to provide them with appropriate choices.
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