Linguistics and the Human Sciences, Vol 5, No 3 (2009)

A View of Pragmatics in a Social Semiotic Perspective

Ruqaiya Hasan
Issued Date: 7 Feb 2012


The constrained and constraining conception of ‘linguistics proper’ in the 1970s dominant linguistics encouraged the recognition of several sub/disciplines concerned
in some way with the study of language. Viewed at first as optional extra to ‘doing real linguistics’, these disciplines have struggled under the weight of their origin to gain a legitimate status: on the one hand, they are said to concern areas of language study which just cannot be ignored if one’s interest is in understanding the nature of language, on the other, their exclusion from the field of ‘linguistics proper’, raises doubts: these claims cannot both be upheld. The dilemma faces pragmatics as much as it does sociolinguistics; the resolution seems to turn on ideas about language. In one of its definitions, pragmatics claims to be ‘the science of language as seen in relation to its users’ (Mey 1993: 5). This suggests the idea of language as a social semiotic. In this paper I attempt to bring pragmatics face to face with language as a social semiotic by spelling out what might be implied by ‘language as seen in relation to its users’.

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DOI: 10.1558/lhs.v5i3.251


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