To begin, what is pragmatics?
Pragmatics is the domain of language used to describe the use of language for communication and interaction, for ideational (to learn) or interpersonal (social) purposes (ASHA, 2015).
It is the unification of syntax, morphology, semantics and phonology, with other non-verbal cues providing contextual information, such as intonation, eye-contact, turn-taking etc. (ASHA, 2015).
The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), 2015, describes three major areas of communication skills contributing to pragmatics:
1. Changing language to suit our audience/situation (i.e. face-to-face, written or read).
2. Following rules of conversation and storytelling (these change across, and within cultures, and are impacted by the rules of our communication partners).
3. Using language for different purposes (i.e. greeting, requests).
Halliday, 1975, provides another perspective of pragmatics by taking a functional-interactional approach. From this, he describes six strands that make up a pattern of the functional terms we associate with language use.
1) Instrumental – using language as a tool to communicate wants and needs.
2) Regulatory –using language to control our own behaviour, in order to control the behaviour of others.
3) Interactional –used for interacting with those around us.
4) Personal – language used to express one’s own uniqueness, awareness of self and environment; all of which converge in the development of personality.
5) Heuristic – language used to explore one’s environment.
6) Imaginative – the use of language that results in narratives, pretend, poetry and imaginative writing.
As we age, an additional element begins to emerge:
7) Informative – Is most dominant in adult language. Here, language is a tool to communicate information to others whom do not possess said information. This is a complex feature reliant upon the internalization of a range of linguistic concepts young children do not possess.
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