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PRAGMATICS: Facing the complexities of language use. Maria Glass, Ph.D. & Andrea Strachan TESL Ontario 2008 – Toronto, ON.

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maria glass ph d andrea strachan tesl ontario 2008 toronto on

PRAGMATICS: Facing the complexities of language use

Maria Glass, Ph.D. & Andrea Strachan

TESL Ontario 2008 – Toronto, ON

summary

Successful language use is a complex endeavor; it depends on understanding of different contexts settings, social relationships, cultural constraints, etc. Pragmatics is the area of language studies that deals with this complexity.

Summary
agenda

In this workshop we will discuss the necessity of including pragmatics in training for TESL and provide participants with practical activities to demonstrate how pragmatics can be taught.

Agenda
common sense

Using language appropriately according to

  • Context
  • Sociolinguistics constraints
  • Culture
Common sense?
defining pragmatics

The study of language from the point of view of the users, especially of the choices they make, the constraints they encounter in using language in social interaction and the effects their use of language has on other participants in the act of communication.

(Crystal, 1997 Apud Kasper & Rose, 2002)

Defining pragmatics
in an ideal world

Husband: Where are the car keys?

Wife: They’re on the table in the hall.

(Thomas, 1995: 64)

In an idealworld….
in the real world

Husband: Where are the keys?

Wife: You should know.

Wife: Oh, boy…. It’s always the same thing…

Wife: Have you finished cutting the grass?

Wife: But it’s so late!

Wife: Where are you going?

Wife: Don’t forget to get some milk.

In the real world…
when the clues are obvious

I began jogging after a visit to the doctor.

I stopped jogging after a visit to the doctor.

My friend didn’t bother to open a bank account until she started to earn money.

She is 40, but still attractive.

( Mey, 2001)

When the clues are obvious….
when the clues are not so obvious

Two people enter an art gallery. One of them goes to buy the admission tickets, while the other one who is carrying a plastic bag goes ahead into the gallery. A docent approaches:

Docent: Would you like to leave your bag here?

Person: Oh no, thank you. It’s not heavy.

Docent : Only…. We have had…. We had a theft here yesterday, you see.

(Adapted from Thomas, 1005)

When the clues are not so obvious…
not always so obvious

You are applying for a new job in a big company and want to make an appointment for an interview. You know the manager is very busy and only schedules interviews in the afternoon, from one to four o’clock. However, you currently work in the afternoon.

(Adapted from McLean,2004)

Not always so obvious
not always so obvious1

You are in the office this morning handing in your application form…

  • …when you see the manager. You say:
  • …to the receptionist. You say:
  • , but it is lunchtime and the receptionist is out. You decide to leave your application with a note to the manager. You write:
  • ,but it is lunchtime and the receptionist is out. You decide to leave your application with a note to the receptionist. You write:
  • …to the receptionist, who is a good friend of yours. You say:
Not always so obvious
not always so obvious2

Wife: It’s getting late.

Husband: (Doesn’t want to leave)  

What might the husband say if….

1. … they were at a dinner party hosted by the

husband's boss?

2. … they were at a close friend’s birthday party?

3. … they were at the wife’s mother’s house?

4. … they were at their daughter’s house?

5. … they were at the husband’s mother’s house?

(Adapted from Mey, 2001:162)

Not always so obvious
not always so obvious3

At a friend’s house.

Boyfriend turns to his girlfriend and says:

It’s so hot in here.

The host overhears and ...

1. ...thinking that his guest needs some fresh air, says…

2. ...thinking that his guest wants to go home, says…

3. ...thinking that his guest wants to have a cold beer,

says…

4. ...thinking that his guest wants the AC on, says…

5. ...thinking that his guest wants to go outside and

make out with his girlfriend, says…

Not always so obvious
not always so obvious4

Father: How old are you?

Son: Sorry, Dad.

Son: I’m 14 years old.

Son: It’s not my fault!

Son: I know…. It was bad…

Son: What if Ted comes along?

Not always so obvious
not always so obvious5

The speaker was my mother. She made the two following requests to me within the space of a few minutes:

Shut the window, Jen.

Do you think you could find the time to take those invitations to the printer?

(Thomas, J., 1995:130)

Not always so obvious
not always so obvious6

A medical laboratory technologist working in a busy hospital lab looks at her watch. The time is 12:00. She looks briefly at the equipment that she is responsible for, then at her colleague, and says: "It‘s lunch time.”

What does she mean?

a) It's lunch time.

b) I’m hungry.

c) I’m leaving. Now you are in charge.

d) I didn’t have breakfast today.

e) Watch out!

Not always so obvious
not always so obvious7

At the dinner table, after the son’s hockey game.

Dad: When the puck is in their end, where should your defenders be?

Son (proudly):   In the corners.

Mom: That’s right, by the goal.

Dad (confused): What?

Not always so obvious
not always so obvious8

(On a billboard in Toronto)

It’s ok. These bands have

never heard of you either.

Now

Not always so obvious
wrong place wrong pose

Boyfriend and girlfriend are walking down a downtown street. The young man stops to tie his shoelace. While on his knee, he looks up and sees that he is in front of a jewellery store, and sees a nice diamond ring in the window.

Boyfriend: Do you like this one?

Girlfriend: Yes, I mean, Yes, I do!!!

The boyfriend turns pale….

(Insurance company TV ad)

Wrong place, wrong pose
not always so obvious9

A: What time is it?

B: _____________

In which situations could these answers occur?

  • Time to get going?
  • Twelve noon.
  • I’m not listening to you.
  • Too early to start drinking.
  • Not now, please.

(Adapted from Mey, 2001)

Not always so obvious
not always so obvious10

A needs to leave the workshop room to make a phone call. As it is almost the start time for the workshop, A asks B to let him know when the presenters come in. When the presenters arrive, B calls out to A and says:

they’re here

Not always so obvious
thank goodness for reference presupposition

Maria Glass and Andrea Strachan, the presenters of session FAJ entitled Pragmatics: Facing the complexities of Language, being presented today, November 14, at the TESL Ontario Conference 2008 at the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, just entered workshop Carleton room, and as requested I am letting you know that they have arrived and the workshop is about to begin…

Thank Goodness for Reference & Presupposition!
things we say by not saying

A is asking B about a mutual friend’s new boyfriend:

A: Is he nice?

B: She seems to like him.

(Thomas, 1995: 66)

Things we say by not saying….
pragmatics

Involves awareness of how our linguistic choices are made based on constraints imposed

by interrelated factors.

Pragmatics
contacts

Maria Glass, Ph.D. Language Consultant

416-409-0320 – Mississauga, ON

mariahglass@hotmail.com

Andrea Strachan. Language Consultant

416-820-8050 – Toronto, ON

andreastrachan@sympatico.ca

Contacts
works cited

Kasper, G. & Rose, K. (2002). Pragmatic Development in a Second Language. Oxford: Blackwell.

Mclean, T. (2004). Giving Students a fighting chance: Pragmatics in the language classroom. TESL Canada Journal (21), 2, 72-92

Mey, J. (2001). Pragmatics: An Introduction (Second edition). Oxford: Blackwell.

Thomas, J. (1995). Meaning in Interaction: an introduction to pragmatics. London: Longman  

Works cited