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A Resource Book for Students

Joan Cutting, Kenneth Fordyce

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eBook - ePub


A Resource Book for Students

Joan Cutting, Kenneth Fordyce

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Routledge English Language Introductions cover core areas of language study and are one-stop resources for students.

Assuming no prior knowledge, books in the series offer an accessible overview of the subject, with activities, study questions, sample analyses, commentaries, and key readings – all in the same volume. The innovative and flexible 'two-dimensional' structure is built around four sections – introduction, development, exploration, and extension – that offer self-contained stages for study. Each topic can also be read across these sections, enabling the reader to gradually build on the knowledge gained.

Now in its fourth edition, this best-selling textbook:

  • Covers the core areas of the subject: speech acts, the cooperative principle, relevance theory, corpus pragmatics, politeness theory, and critical discourse analysis

  • Has updated and new sections on intercultural and cross-cultural pragmatics, critical discourse analysis and the pragmatics of power, second language pragmatic competence development, impoliteness, post-truth discourse, vague language, pragmatic markers, formulaic sequences, and online corpus tools

  • Draws on a wealth of texts in a variety of languages, including political TV interviews, newspaper articles, extracts from classic novels and plays, recent international films, humorous narratives, and exchanges on email, messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp

  • Provides recent readings from leading scholars in the discipline, including Jonathan Culpeper, Lynne Flowerdew, and César Félix-Brasdefer

  • Is accompanied by eResources featuring extra material and activities.

Written by two experienced teachers and researchers, this accessible textbook is an essential resource for all students of English language and linguistics.

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Section A



A1.1 Understanding concepts

  • ❑ Context
  • ❑ Language and context
  • ❑ Language and structure

A1.2 Introduction to pragmatics

The approaches to language description that are described in this book all involve pragmatics. The first section of this unit defines them and should serve as a reference guide to all the units of the book.
Let us start by differentiating pragmatics from discourse analysis. They are both approaches to studying language’s relation to contextual background features. In Queen Victoria’s famous words ‘We are not amused’, they would take into account the fact that Victoria had been in a prolonged depression, caused by the death of her husband, Albert, and her courtiers knew this, and that her words were a response to a joke which they had just made. Analysts would infer that the queen’s intention was to stop them trying to make her laugh and lift her out of the depression and that her statement implies a reminder that she has to be respected as queen. Pragmatics and discourse analysis have much in common: they both study context, text, and function.
First, let us look at context. Both pragmatics and discourse analysis study the meaning of words in context, analysing the parts of meaning that can be explained by knowledge of the physical and social world, the sociopsychological factors influencing communication, and the time and place in which the words are uttered or written (Stilwell Peccei 1999; Yule 1996). Both approaches focus on the meaning of words in interaction and how interactors communicate more information than the dictionary meaning of the words they use. The speaker’s meaning depends on assumptions of knowledge that are shared by both speaker and hearer: the speaker constructs the linguistic message and intends or implies a meaning, and the hearer interprets the message and infers the meaning (Brown and Yule 1983; Thomas 1995). Context continues to be a vibrant area of research interest, as evidenced by journals such as Journal of Pragmatics, which focuses on how speakers produce and interpret language in context. This aspect is explored in section A1.3 in this unit, to introduce concepts that are behind pragmatics approaches described in this book.
The second feature that pragmatics and discourse analysis have in common is that they both look at discourse, or the use of language, and text, or pieces of spoken or written discourse, concentrating on how stretches of language become meaningful and unified for their users. Discourse analysis has been used to explore the cohesion between linguistic items in the text; cohesion is covered briefly in section A1.4 of this unit, to introduce terms sometimes used in pragmatics studies. Discourse analysis calls the quality of being ‘meaningful and unified’ coherence; pragmatics calls it relevance. Both approaches would take into account the fact that Queen Victoria’s words were intended to be seen as relevant to the courtiers’ joke and to anything that they should say aft erwards. Units A3–D3, dealing with the cooperative principle, an area of pragmatics, examine relevance theory, which is the study of how the assumption of relevance holds texts together meaningfully.
Finally, pragmatics and discourse analysis have in common the fact that they are both concerned with function: the speakers’ short-term purposes in speaking or writing and their long-term goals in interacting verbally or in writing. In the example, the queen’s purpose was to stop the courtiers trying to make her laugh and to make them respect her. Units covering function are A2–D2, on speech act theory. This describes what utterances are intended to do, such as promise, apologise, and threaten.
Where discourse analysis differs from pragmatics is in its emphasis on the structure of text. Discourse analysis studies how large chunks of language beyond the sentence level are organised. Conversation analysis, which examines the structure of social interaction, would show that Victoria’s response to the joke was not the preferred response: someone telling a joke expects a response containing laughter. Similarly, it would show that her reprimand predicts an apology in response: something like ‘I’m sorry, Your Majesty’. This framework is explained in section A1.5, because the categories involved are occasionally used in combination with pragmatics approaches mentioned in this book, and an understanding of the terms is therefore useful.
Pragmatics differs from discourse analysis in the importance given to the social principles of discourse. Pragmatics can explain the example thus: the queen complied with the social maxims of the cooperative principle, being relevant, precise, clear, and sincere; her courtiers expected her to do so; and she obeyed the social conventions involved in the politeness principle, in that her request for the courtiers to stop is soft ened by indirectness, which aims to avoid causing offence. And yet her response is a little abrupt and face threatening, which is impolite. Pragmatics takes a sociocultural perspective on language usage; examining the way that the principles of social behaviour are expressed is determined by the social distance between speakers. It describes the unwritten maxims of interaction that speakers follow in order to cooperate and be socially acceptable with each other. In this book, units dealing with these issues of pragmatics are A3–D3, on cooperative principle, and A4–D4, on politeness and impoliteness.
Studies with a discourse analysis or pragmatics focus can be conducted by using corpus linguistics, which involves the analysis of electronic databases of naturally-occurring spoken and written text varying in size from thousands to billions of words. Corpus analysis enables the discovery of recurring patterns of language use that are oft en difficult to discern without the support of the sorting and organisational power of computers. Corpus linguistics provides a data-driven approach to language analysis, which can investigate the use of language in relation to a wide range of individual and contextual variables, such as social class, genre, register, gender, age, mother tongue or first language (L1), and proficiency level. Corpus linguistics also makes possible a systematic description of language use within communities of practice and has provided insights into the nature and importance of formulaic language. Units A5–D5 deal with corpus linguistics.
Units A6–D6 introduce critical discourse analysis (CDA), an ideological approach that examines the purpose of language in the social context, and reveals how discourse reflects and determines power structures. It is relatively rare to include CDA in a book on pragmatics, because some see CDA as an approach quite separate from pragmatics, in that it examines the surface features of grammatical and lexical choices, as opposed to underlying meanings. However, it is described in this book because CDA is concerned with the hidden norms relating to roles and status, which is in line with pragmatics’ focus on language in social contexts. In addition, like other pragmatics approaches, CDA is concerned with sociolinguistics and studies communities of practice.
Many of the theories described here originated in studies of Anglo-American contexts which suggested that the findings were generalisable to all contexts. Today’s pragmatics studies examine local contexts round the world, taking a multicultural approach. As Kecskes (2014: 3) points out,
communication is becoming more and more intercultural because it involves interlocutors who have different first languages, communicate in a common language, and represent different cultures.
For that reason, although the book describes some approaches to pragmatics which were conceived in a monolingual framework and presupposed universal rules of communication, it also introduces more-recent theories, which take a more multilingual approach. This is illustrated by units A7–D7, which look specifically at intercultural pragmatics, which is concerned with how language varies according to whether speakers are talking in their L1 to speakers of the same language or whether they are using a lingua franca to be understood by speakers of another language. An awareness of intercultural pragmatics differences is essential for language learners and teachers round the world.
Units A8–D8 explore the applications of theory and research to language learning and teaching, suggesting ways that learners can be helped to use the target language pragmatics features but, at the same time, valued as lingua franca users with intercultural communicative competence. Unit A8 is divided into sections looking at theories on how pragmatics is learned in a second language (L2) and where pragmatics fits with the development of intercultural competence, how L2 pragmatics can be taught in the L2 classroom, and what pragmatics is taught in a global world, where English is used as a lingua franca in a multiplicity of cultural contexts
Since the first edition of this book was published in 2002, the Internet revolution has in turn led to a revolution in the ways people communicate, whether it be texting, tweeting, messaging, blogging, or posting YouTube videos – now usually termed ‘digital communication’ (Georgakopoulou and Spilioti 2020). This fourth edition includes examples taken from these new forms of communication and invites discussions from new perspectives on the relationship between language use and contexts of communication.
Before we meet these theories, let us consider context and structure, because an understanding of them can provide a useful background in the understanding of pragmatics.

A1.3 Context

We said that pragmatics studies deal with the mea...

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