1st Edition

Understanding Pragmatics

ISBN 9781444180305
Published February 6, 2014 by Routledge
232 Pages

USD $52.95

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Book Description

Understanding Pragmatics takes an interdisciplinary approach to provide an accessible introduction to linguistic pragmatics. This book discusses how the meaning of utterances can only be understood in relation to overall cultural, social and interpersonal contexts, as well as to culture specific conventions and the speech events in which they are embedded. From a cross-linguistic and cross-cultural perspective, this book:

  • debates the core issues of pragmatics such as speech act theory, conversational implicature, deixis, gesture, interaction strategies, ritual communication, phatic communion, linguistic relativity, ethnography of speaking, ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, languages and social classes, and linguistic ideologies
  • incorporates examples from a broad variety of different languages and cultures
  • takes an innovative and transdisciplinary view of the field showing linguistic pragmatics has its predecessor in other disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, ethology, ethnology, sociology and the political sciences.

Written by an experienced teacher and researcher, this introductory textbook is essential reading for all students studying pragmatics.

Table of Contents

1. Pragmatics and Philosophy: Speech Act Theory and the Theory of Conversational Implicature

2. Pragmatics and Psychology: Deictic reference and Gesture

3. Pragmatics and Human Ethology: Biological foundations of communicative behaviour

4. Pragmatics and Ethnology: The interface of language, culture and cognition 

5. Pragmatics and Sociology: Everyday social interaction

6. Pragmatics and Politics: Language, social class, ethnicity and education and linguistic ideologies

7. Understanding Pragmatics: Summary and Outlook

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Gunter Senft is senior investigator at the MPI for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen and extraordinary professor of general linguistics at the University of Cologne. His main research interests include Austronesian and Papuan languages, anthropological linguistics, pragmatics, and semantics.


‘This is easily the most useful, and engaging introduction to pragmatics that is currently available. Senft discusses the canonical topics of the discipline but he discusses them, always in an exemplary and rigorous manner, against their wider intellectual backgrounds.  This combination of sympathetic, critical and illuminating exposition of the central topics and their relationships makes this book a terrific companion for all undergraduate and postgraduate students (and some of their teachers too).’
Ken Turner, University of Brighton, UK

This book is highly systematic and orderly, with a new principled approach to the major themes of pragmatics and the central topics that have paraded under that banner. Arrayed against the familiar texts in the field, the book is more heavily grounded in anthropological fieldwork and splendidly provided with suggested and potentially thought-provoking exercises for ambitious students at all levels. I am eager to try it out with some of my own.'
John Haviland, University of California, San Diego, USA

'Senft’s Understanding Pragmatics is a reasonably short, yet very rich, introduction to the field of pragmatics [...]constitutes a valuable resource for anyone interested in the theoretical and epistemological underpinnings of pragmatic research.'
Steve Oswald, Journal of Pragmatics