Pragmatics is a relatively late comer in linguistics. It enters the linguistic scene at the end of the 1970s. However, to many people, this is a rather new area.
“We human beings are odd compared with our nearest animal relatives. Unlike them, we can say what we want, when we want. All normal humans can produce and understand any number of new words and sentences. Humans use the multiple options of language often without thinking. But blindly, they sometimes fall into its traps. They are like spiders who exploit their webs, but themselves get caught in the sticky strands.”
“Pragmatics studies the factors that govern our choice of language in social interaction and the effects of our choice on others.”
“Pragmatics is all about the meanings between the lexis and the grammar and the phonology...Meanings are implied and the rules being followed are unspoken, unwritten ones.”
“Pragmatics is a way of investigating how sense can be made of certain texts even when, from a semantic viewpoint, the text seems to be either incomplete or to have a different meaning to what is really intended. Consider a sign seen in a children's wear shop window: “Baby Sale - lots of bargains”. We know without asking that there are no babies are for sale - that what is for sale are items used for babies. Pragmatics allows us to investigate how this “meaning beyond the words” can be understood without ambiguity. The extra meaning is there, not because of the semantic aspects of the words themselves, but because we share certain contextual knowledge with the writer or speaker of the text.
“Pragmatics is an important area of study for your course. A simplified way of thinking about pragmatics is to recognise, for example, that language needs to be kept interesting - a speaker or writer does not want to bore a listener or reader, for example, by being over-long or tedious. So, humans strive to find linguistic means to make a text, perhaps, shorter, more interesting, more relevant, more purposeful or more personal. Pragmatics allows this.”