Pragmatics: Definitions and Background by makhb

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    For a long period in the study of language, likewise Yule‟s supposition

 (1996:6), there has been very strong interest in formal systems of analysis, often

 derived from mathematics and logics. As the newest placing, pragmatics is the one

 of levels that encompasses human as the language user. Although having similar

 focus of semantics study, particularly in meaning, the study of meaning in

 pragmatics is strongly different from the semantics one.

    This paper aims at explaining the essence of studying pragmatics in the field

 of linguistics study. For that purpose, we precede this paper by defining

 pragmatics and its development, elaborating the topics of its study, and also

 distinguishing one field to another in linguistics scope.

    In the particular interval, we are going to talk the first thing approaching to the

 course material which has been arranged in the subject matter of pragmatics. This

 paper discusses some essences of pragmatics gaining its definitions and its

 background referred to some resources of linguistics expert.

    In the sequence of our discussion, we divide this paper into three scopes of

 elaboration. First, we are going to talk pragmatics which has relations to the study

 of syntax and semantics. Second, pragmatics includes regularity which tends to

 people‟s behavior in fairly regular ways when they use language. Third,

 pragmatics is seen from the wastebasket.

II. Discussion

    Many experts define the terms of pragmatics in different ways. Yule (1996:3)

states that there are four studies for defining pragmatics, namely the study of

speaker meaning, the study of contextual meaning, the study of how more gets

communicated than is said, and the study of the expression of relative distance

which delimits participants involve in a certain conversation.

   Furthermore, Thomas (1995:2) mentioned two considerations of pragmatics

divided into two parts. The first lays on the light of social in relating pragmatics to

speaker meaning while the second uses the cognitive viewpoint which relates

utterance meaning. In the other interval, Thomas (1995:22) intends to seem that

interpretation is dynamic process attached to the negotiation between speaker and

listener (hearer) and as well as utterance context (physics, social, and linguistics)

and potential meaning that might be derived from some utterances. Thus, it can

define pragmatics as the study of meaning in interaction.

A. Pragmatics Development

   Gunarwan (2004:5) states that pragmatics grows and develops in four

 preferences or traditions: antisyntaxism, social-critics, philosophy, and


   The first preference is motorized by George Lakoff and Haji John Robert Ross

 which emphasizes rejecting the Chomsky‟s syntaxism. It is said that syntax is the

 central of language study, and phonology, morphology and semantics are

 peripheral. In the contrary, Lakoff and Ross states that the well-formedness is not

 for the study of central language because communication comes in frequency

 with either the form of ill-formed or semantics (Gunarwan, 2004:6).

   The second preference occurred in Europe particularly in Britania, German,

 and Scandinavia. It occurred from the essence of need to linguistics both in

 social and relevance not in busy for describing language autonomically.

   Moreover, the third tradition is philosophy which is lead by Bertrand Russell,

 Ludwig Wittegenstein, and especially by John L. Austin and John R. Searlie.

 Those experts study language through its forms in the logic set. Gunarwan

 (2004:7) said that the effects of those experts are stronger than the others before.

   The fourth tradition is etnomethodology. It is described as one of the sociology

 field that studies speech community. In the other hand, speech community is one

 way how the society interacts in a certain community.

B. Definitions and Background

   In this section, pragmatics is seen from the background how it conducts and

 implies the purpose. There are four understandable objects of study in order to

 appear the terminology of pragmatics.

   1. Speaker meaning

       Meaning is one contributed aspect implied in some utterances or

    expression. Pragmatics is concerned with the study of meaning as

    communicated by a speaker or a writer and interpreted by a listener or a

    reader. Consequently, what a speaker or a writer communicates and meaning

    as interpreted by a listener or a reader are related to eah other. The relation

    must have a comprehension between both a speaker and a listener. It means

    that it has more to do with the analysis of what people mean by their

 utterances than what the words or phrases in those utterances might mean by

 themselves. That is the way how pragmatics is considered to be the study of

 speaker meaning.

2. Contextual meaning

   In addition to being speaker meaning, this necessarily includes the

 interpretation what people mean in particular context and how the context

 influences what is said. The interpretation of taking context should require a

 consideration of how speakers organize what they want to talk or

 communicate in accordance with whom they are talking to, where, when, and

 under what circumstances. This is what the pragmatics is called by the study

 of contextual meaning.

3. How more gets communicated than is said

   This type of study explores how a great deal of what is unsaid is

 recognized as part of what is communicated. It means that the listener

 interprets the speaker‟s intended meaning. It can also be said the

 investigation of invisible meaning.

4. The expression of relative distance

   This perspective then raises the question of what determines the choces

 between said and unsaid. The answer is tied to the notion of distance.

 Closeness, whether it is physical, social, or conceptual, implies shared

 experience. On this assumption of how close or distant the listener is,

 speakers determine how much needs to be said. Pragmatics is the study of the

 expression of relative distance.

C. The Distinction in Language Analysis

   In this section, we are going to present how pragmatics is different from

 syntax and semantics in their implications and their objects of study.

   1. Syntax

       According to Yule (1996), syntax is the study of the relationship between

    linguistics form, how they are arranged in sequence, and which sequences are

    well-formed. In general, this type of study takes place without considering

    any world of reference or any user of the forms.

   2. Semantics

       Semantics is the study of the relationship between linguistics forms and

    entities in the world, that is, how words literally onnect to things. In this case,

    semantics analysis also attempts to establish the relationship between verbal

    decriptions and states of affairs in the world as accurate (true) or not,

    regardless of who produces that description.

       Thus, pragmatics is appealing because it‟s about how people make sense

    of each other linguistically, but it can be a frustating area of study because it

    requires us to make sense of people and what they have in mind.

D. Regularity

   In communication, people tend to behave in fairly regular ways when it comes

 to using language. Some of that regularity derives from the fact that people are

 members of social groups and follow general patterns of behavior expected

 within a group. Ramelan (1992:14) said that language is social group which is

said to be social because it is only used in a social group which involves at least

two persons, the speaker and the bearer. The use of language enables the

members of a social group to cooperate with one another for their own benefits.

  There are two situations which classify the use of language in the society,

namely, formal and informal situation. The formal language demands the

speakers to use the standardized language (formal language). It is mainly caused

by using it in the formal situation or in the written communication which

demands the speakers to use it. For instance, it is used when someone is taking a

speech getting a lecture meeting, and others. In the written language, for

example, it is mostly used in legislation, formal document and others.

  In addition, the informal situation also brings up the informal language in

which people are in the scope. The quantity of using informal language is

actually dependent upon the level of speakers „intimacy‟ that is exactly involved

in communication.

  For instance, when Indonesian lived in Saudi Arabia for the first time, he

intended to answer questions in Arabic about health (the equivalent of “how are

you?”) with “fine”. However, he eventually noticed that when he asked a similar

question, people generally answered with a phrase that had the literal meaning of

“Praise to God” (Alhamdulillah).

  It is the same when I visit my moeslim guidance teacher, he asked me question

of condition. Then, I myself suffered in similar thing, particularly in answering

good condition with the phrase or expression “pangestune mawon, Yi”.

  Those examples indicate that the source of regularity in language use derives

from the fact that most people within a linguistics community have similar basic

experiences of the world and share a lot of non-linguistic knowledge. Yule

(1996:5) gives examples of middle conversation and mentioned information in.

      “I found an old bicycle lying on the ground. The chain was rusted and the
      tires were flat.”

  We are unlikely to ask why a chain and some tires were suddenly being

mentioned. It is normally assumed that we will make the inference that if bicycle

is X, then X has a chain and tires. Because of this type of assumption, it would

be pragmatically odd to have expressed as:

      “I found an old bicycle. A bicycle has a chain. The chain was rusted. A
      bicycle also has tires. The tires were flat.”

  We would perhaps think that more was being communicated than was being

said and that we were being treated as someone with no basic knowledge (i.e. as

stupid). Once again, nothing in the use of the linguistic forms is inaccurate, but

getting the pragmatics wrong might be offensive.

      The types of regularities just described are extremely simple examples of

language in us which are largely ignored by most linguistic analyses. To

understand why it has become the province of pragmatics to investigate these,

and many other, aspects of ordinary language in use, we need to take a brief

historical look at how things got to be the way they are.

E. The Pragmatics Wastebasket

   For a long period in the study of language, there has been a very strong

 interest in formal systems of analysis, often derived from mathematic and logic.

 The emphasis has been on discovering some of the abstract principles that lie at

 the very core of language. By placing the investigation of the abstract,

 potentially universal, features og language in the center of their work tables,

 linguists and philosophers of language tended to push any notes they had on

 everyday language use to the edges. As the tables got crowded, many of those

 notes on ordinary language in use began to be knocked off and ended up in the

 wastebasket. That over flowing wastebasket has become the source of much of

 what will be discussed in the following pages. It is worth remembering that the

 contents of that wastebasket were not originally organized under a single

 category. They were defined negatively, asw the stuff that wasn‟t easily handled

 within the formal systems of analusis. Consequently, in order to understand some

 of the material that we‟re going to pull out of the wastebasket, we really have to

 look at how it got there.

       The tables upon which many linguists and philosophers of language

 worked were devoted to the analysis of language structure. Consider the sentence


       [1] “the duck ran up to mary and licked her.”

   A syntactic approach to this sentence would be concerned with the rules that

 determine the correct structure and exclude any incorrect ordering such us „Up

 duck Mary to the ran‟. Syntactic analysis would also be required to show that

that there is a missing element („and licked her‟) before the verb „licked‟ and to

explicate the rules that allow that empy slot, or accept the pronoun „it‟ in that

position. However, those working on syntax would have thought it totally

irrelevant if we tried to say that duck don‟t do that and maybe the speaker had

meant to say „dog‟. Indeed, from a purely syntactic perspective, a sentence like

„The bottle of ketchup ran up to Mary‟ is just as well-formed as [1].

      Over the semantics side of the table, however, there would have been

concern. An entity labeled „duck‟ has a meaning feature (animate) whereas a

„bottle of ketchup‟ would be (non-animate). Since a verb like „ran up to‟ requires

something animate as its subject, the word „duck‟ is okay, but not a „bottle of


      Sematics is also concerned with the truth-conditions of propositions

expressed in sentences. These propositions generally correspond to the basic

literal meaning of a simple clause and are conventionally represented by the

letters p, q, and r. let‟s say that the underlying meaning relationship being

expressed in „The duck ran up to Mary‟ is the proposition p, and in „the duck

licked Mary‟, it is the proposition q. these two proposition are joined by the

logical connector symbol for conjunction, & (called „ampersand‟). Thus, the

propositional representation of the sentence in [1] is as in [2].

      [2] p & q

  If p is true and q us true, then p & q is true. If either p or q is not true (false),

then the conjunction of p & q is necessarily false. This type of analysis is used

extensively in formal semantics.

    Unfortumately, in this type of analysis, whenever p & q is true, it logically

  follows that q & p is true. Notice that q & p, in this particular case, would have

  to be expressed as in [3].

        [3] The duck licked Mary and ran up to her.

    In the everyday world of language use, this state of affairs is not identical to

  the original situation described in [1]. There is a sequence of two events being

  described and we expect that sequence, in terms of occurrence, to be reflected in

  the order of mention.

        If p involves some action and q involves another action, we have an

  overhelming tendency to interpret the conjunction „and‟, not as logical &, but as

  the sequential expression „and then‟. This is another example of more being

  communicated than is said. We might propose that there is a regular principle of

  language use which can be stated as in [4].

        [4] Interpret order of mention as a reflection of order of occurrence.

    What is expressed in [4] is not a rule of sytrax or semantics. It isn‟t a rule at

  all. It is a pragmatic principle which we frequently use to make sense of what we

  hear and read, but which we can ignore if it doesn‟t apply in some situations.

III. Conclusion

    As stated above that this paper aims at knowing the essence of pragmatics and

  its classification. Based on the discussion, we know that pragmatics is the study

  of speaker meaning, the study of contextual meaning, the study of how how

  more gets communicated than is said, and the study of the expression of relative


  The essence of learning pragmatics can be seen from two basic things. First,

pragmatics is one of the ranks of linguistics which investigates language, and

second pragmatics is related to the syntax and sematics in elaborating the use of

daily language phenomena. Besides, pragmatics can also be applied in language

teaching within the role of developing communicative competence.


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        University Press.

Brown, Penelope., dan Stephen C. Levinson. 1978. Politeness: Some Universal in
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Eelen, Gino. 2001. A Critique of Politeness Theories. Manchester, UK: St. Jerome

Gunarwan, Asim. 2004. Dari Pragmatik ke Pengajaran Bahasa (Makalah
      Seminar Bahasa dan Sastra Indonesia dan Daerah). IKIP Singaraja.

Jaszczolt, K.M. 2002. Semantics and Pragmatics: Meaning in Language and
       Discourse. Edinburgh: Pearson Education.

Renkema, Jan. 2004. Introduction to Discourse Studies. Amsterdam: John
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Ramelan, M.A. 1992. Introduction to Linguistics Analysis. Semarang : IKIP
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Yule, George. 1996. Pragmatics. New York: Oxford University Press.


          the lecturer : Dr. Mualimin, M.Hum

                    Presented by:

            Moh. Aniq Kh.B. (A4C008028)





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