Pragmatics
The philosopher Charles Morris saw pragmatics as part of the science of signs or semiotics. Semiotics could be divided up into three branches of enquiry: syntactics (or syntax), which is the study of ‘the formal relations of signs to one another’; semantics, the study of ‘the relations of signs to the objects to which the signs are applicable’; and pragmatics, the study of ‘the relations of signs to interpreters’. (Levinson 1983:1). It has since then been common to divide the study of language into for levels: phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Phonology, syntax, and semantics are often seen as the three components of grammar, which investigates language without specific reference to context or to interpreters. Pragmatics would therefore be distinguished from the other levels as the branch of linguistics that investigates the rules and principles that govern language in use in its various contexts (situational, sociological, ideological, etc.). By definition, therefore, pragmatics is inter disciplinary in nature.
Dr. Peter Tan, Department of English Language and
Literature, National University of Singapore

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