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Pragmatics is about how the language system is put to use in social encounters by human beings. In this process, which is one of the most creative human enterprises, communicators (who are speaker-producers and hearer-interpreters at the same time) manipulate language to shape and infer meaning in a sociocultural context. The main research questions for those who study pragmatics are as follows: Why do we choose to say what we say (production), and why do we understand things the way we do (comprehension)?

This entry provides a brief history of pragmatics and distinguishes between pragmatics, syntactics, and semantics. It goes on to define various subfields of pragmatics, such as linguistic-philosophical pragmatics, sociocultural-interactional pragmatics, and intercultural pragmatics. Following this is a discussion of intercultural pragmatics and its ...

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