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Historical pragmatics


Jucker, Andreas H (2023). Historical pragmatics. www.oxfordbibliographies.com: Oxford University Press.

Abstract

Pragmatics is a branch of linguistics. In a narrow sense it studies the way in which the linguistic properties of an utterance interact with its context to provide situational interpretations for the recipient of the utterance. In a wider sense, pragmatics studies all aspects of language use in an interactional and a social context. Historical pragmatics as a well-established subfield of pragmatics focuses on language use in historical contexts. This includes the study of usage patterns at particular points in the history of a given language, the study of the diachronic developments of such usage patterns and the study of the underlying principles of such developments. Work on historical pragmatics has a long history but until the mid-1990s relevant publications were rare and did not describe themselves as historical pragmatics. In the second half of the 1990s and in the early 2000s, the field quickly established itself as an important branch of pragmatics. Several factors were instrumental in this development. After the early focus of pragmatics on philosophical methods on the one hand and on spontaneous face-to-face interactions on the other, it opened its scope to a broader range of data, including written data. At the same time, the 1990s brought an increased availability of language corpora and, in particular, the availability of historical corpora. This opened up new ways of investigating language histories. In the early work of historical pragmatics, researchers regularly justified their choice of data. Plays, courtroom proceedings, and personal correspondence were considered to be particularly good, albeit imperfect, approximations to natural spoken interactions and therefore the privileged data for historical pragmatics. Today, data is no longer assessed solely in terms of its proximity to natural spoken interaction, but each type of data is considered in its own right and within its own communicative contexts. Topics of interest in historical pragmatics have always covered a broad range of pragmatic entities, including speech actions (greetings, promises, requests, apologies, and the like), discourse markers and interjections, nominal and pronominal terms of address, and issues of politeness and impoliteness. Researchers investigate such elements at specific points in time or in their diachronic developments over longer periods. And they also try to isolate general underlying principles of diachronic change that explain these developments within a larger theoretical framework.

Abstract

Pragmatics is a branch of linguistics. In a narrow sense it studies the way in which the linguistic properties of an utterance interact with its context to provide situational interpretations for the recipient of the utterance. In a wider sense, pragmatics studies all aspects of language use in an interactional and a social context. Historical pragmatics as a well-established subfield of pragmatics focuses on language use in historical contexts. This includes the study of usage patterns at particular points in the history of a given language, the study of the diachronic developments of such usage patterns and the study of the underlying principles of such developments. Work on historical pragmatics has a long history but until the mid-1990s relevant publications were rare and did not describe themselves as historical pragmatics. In the second half of the 1990s and in the early 2000s, the field quickly established itself as an important branch of pragmatics. Several factors were instrumental in this development. After the early focus of pragmatics on philosophical methods on the one hand and on spontaneous face-to-face interactions on the other, it opened its scope to a broader range of data, including written data. At the same time, the 1990s brought an increased availability of language corpora and, in particular, the availability of historical corpora. This opened up new ways of investigating language histories. In the early work of historical pragmatics, researchers regularly justified their choice of data. Plays, courtroom proceedings, and personal correspondence were considered to be particularly good, albeit imperfect, approximations to natural spoken interactions and therefore the privileged data for historical pragmatics. Today, data is no longer assessed solely in terms of its proximity to natural spoken interaction, but each type of data is considered in its own right and within its own communicative contexts. Topics of interest in historical pragmatics have always covered a broad range of pragmatic entities, including speech actions (greetings, promises, requests, apologies, and the like), discourse markers and interjections, nominal and pronominal terms of address, and issues of politeness and impoliteness. Researchers investigate such elements at specific points in time or in their diachronic developments over longer periods. And they also try to isolate general underlying principles of diachronic change that explain these developments within a larger theoretical framework.

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Item Type:Scientific Publication in Electronic Form
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
08 Research Priority Programs > Language and Space
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:21 February 2023
Deposited On:28 Feb 2023 09:17
Last Modified:13 Mar 2024 14:53
Publisher:Oxford University Press
Series Name:Oxford Bibliographies
ISBN:9780199772810
Additional Information:This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Oxford Bibliographies following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0284.
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0284
Official URL:https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/display/document/obo-9780199772810/obo-9780199772810-0284.xml
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English
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  • Embargo till: 2025-02-23