NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1064996
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 21
ISSN: EISSN-1072-4303
Grammar, Meaning and Pragmatics: Sorting out the Muddle
Swan, Michael
TESL-EJ, v11 n2 Sep 2007
The term "pragmatics" is commonly used in two quite different senses. In linguistic discourse, "pragmatics" refers to the strategies (exploitation of shared knowledge, assumptions about communicative intent, etc.), by which language users relate the dictionary/grammar meaning of utterances to their communicative value in context. "Pragmatics" in this sense deals with what is not encoded in language, and applies to all language use. In language teaching, on the other hand, "pragmatics" generally refers to the encoding of particular communicative functions, especially those relevant to interpersonal exchanges, in specific grammatical and lexical elements of a given language. Confusion between the two senses leads to the common and mistaken claim that all the structures of a language encode two levels of meaning, "semantic" and "pragmatic," both of which must be learnt for communicative competence. A further common claim, that earlier language teaching failed to consider pragmatic aspects of language, is equally unfounded.
TESL-EJ. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A