Digital pragmatics is part of the rich field of digital humanities. While the term digital humanities refers to the entire field of studies that combines computing with the various disciplines of the humanities, the term digital pragmatics refers to the combination of computing with pragmatics, the field of studies that investigates the use of language in all its complexities in actual social and interactional contexts. We will focus on how empirical studies on digital data have changed and are changing this research field, and how its new resources have contributed to our understanding of topics like interpersonal relational work and politeness.
We will provide the background of the digital revolution in pragmatics which can be located in the last decade of the twentieth century through the first decade of the twenty-first century when digital corpora became more widely accessible. Section 3 on critical issues will deal, in particular, with the key challenges faced in digital pragmatics, i.e. the traceability of pragmatic (functional) entities through specific (formal) search patterns. We will then proceed to give an overview of current research efforts in this field, starting from the microlevel of individual expressions to utterances, phrases and collocations, to larger units like speech acts, and proceeding all the way to the macrolevel of genres as meaning-making cultural forms. We shall discuss some of the pertinent methodological issues in searching big data for pragmatic units and provide a case study of the expressive speech act of thanking.