1st Edition

Pragmatics: The Basics

By Billy Clark Copyright 2022
    210 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    210 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Pragmatics: The Basics is an accessible and engaging introduction to the study of verbal and nonverbal communication in context.

    Including nine chapters on the history of pragmatics, current theories, the application of pragmatics, and possible future developments in the field, this book:

    • Offers a comprehensive overview of key ideas in contemporary pragmatics and how these have developed from and beyond the pioneering work of the philosopher Paul Grice;
    • Draws on real-world examples such as political campaign posters and song lyrics to demonstrate how we convey and understand direct and indirect meanings;
    • Explains the effects of verbal, nonverbal, and multimodal communication and how the same words or behaviour can mean different things in different contexts, including what makes utterances more or less polite;
    • Highlights key terms and concepts throughout and provides chapter-end study questions, further reading suggestions, and a glossary.

    Written by an experienced researcher and teacher, this book will be an essential introduction to this topic for all beginning students of English Language and Linguistics.


    List of figures and tables; Acknowledgments; Conventions; Preface; 1. Introduction: the very basics; 2. Meaning more than we say: Grice’s suggestion; 3. Adjusting the maxims: neo-Gricean pragmatics; 4. Principles and heuristics: relevance theory; 5. Managing interaction: (im)politeness; 6. What words can do: speech acts; 7. Beyond words: prosody; 8. Beyond words: nonverbal and multimodal communication; 9. The future: developing pragmatic theories; Glossary; References; Bibliography


    Billy Clark is Professor of English Language and Linguistics at Northumbria University, UK.

    "This is a clear and engaging introduction to a wide range of pragmatic theories and their applications. Clark makes a compelling case for the importance of Pragmatics to our understanding of everyday human communication, but does so without compromising theoretical rigour. The book is packed with lively examples and invitations to engage more fully with the subject through further reading and creative exercises. It is highly recommended both to beginning students of Pragmatics and to those who want to find out more about the subject."

    Siobhan Chapman, The University of Liverpool, UK

    "If you are looking for an accessible but highly illuminating introduction to the field of pragmatics this book is for you. In Pragmatics: The Basics Billy Clark masterfully navigates what lies at the core of pragmatics with admirable balance and poise, and insightfully lays out both how the field has developed and where it is heading."

    Michael Haugh, The University of Queensland, Australia

    "With original chapters on prosodic meaning and multimodal communication, this book does a lot more than just cover the basics: it offers a record of where pragmatics has been and proposes a manifesto for where it can go."

    Marina Terkourafi, Leiden University, The Netherlands