Basic Notions

Related Fields

When dealing with pragmatics you might many a time come across the statement that pragmatics is closely related to other linguistic fields of study such as semantics, syntax and sociolinguistics.

  • If you have already worked through the area of syntax you certainly remember that it is the study of the relationship between linguistic forms, how they are arranged in sequence, and which sequences are well formed. However, syntactic analysis generally takes place without considering any world of reference or any user of the forms. This is where pragmatics comes in.

  • You might also have made yourself familiar with semantics, the study of the relationships between linguistic forms and entities in the world; that is, how words literally connect to things. Semantic analysis also attempts to establish the relationships between verbal descriptions and state of affairs in the world as accurate (true) or not, regardless of who produces that description. This is, once again, where pragmatics comes in, because pragmatics is the study of the relationship between linguistic forms and the users of those forms. Thus, compared to syntax and semantics, only pragmatics allows humans into analysis.

  • Since pragmatics deals with linguistic meaning as determined by usage in a speech community, it overlaps to a considerable degree with another relatively new field of linguistics, namely sociolinguistics. Yet, compared to pragmatists, sociolinguists tend to be more oriented towards variations within such communities.