Language In Order To Communicate English Language Essay

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Pragmatics is a component of linguistics, which encompasses the study in which meaning is decoded with the influence of context. Contrasting semantics, which is the study of meaning in a language, pragmatics matches the linguistic expressions through contextual considerations. The meaning of language does not only depend on theoretical structure of linguistics but also on the context knowledge, the intention in communication and other reasons. Pragmatics also includes the social use of language therefore we use pragmatics in order to transfer emotions or attitudes and many others.

Communicative Intent

The basic motivation to communicate is the need to survive which basically means being fed, clothed, etc… A child uses a lot of communicative intent since he/she has the desire to communicate about his/her needs. Although children may use communicative intent regularly, this does not mean that for every cry they intent to communicate. For example if the child is crying and the parent responds to the child that is not communicative intent. But if the child is crying and looks and the parent and try to use gestures in order to change something he/she is uncomfortable with, then that is communicative intent.

(Clinical Pragmatics Pg 5.)

When talking about communicative intent one has to keep in mind the range and the form. The range is the different types of intents that are used such as: respond, protest, request, comment etc… While the form is the how the child communicates, whether using verbal or non-verbal communication, gestures, one or two word utterances and other forms of communication.

Failure in this area may lead to serious problems that may eventually develop into disorders or impairments. The need of communication is such a crucial milestone in a child's life since it is the key in life.

Speech Acts

While an individual uses language in order to communicate with others, and have the desire to transfer his/her action through words, the person will inevitably use speech acts. Speech acts are in the form of utterances or what is more identified as sentences which serve as a utility in communication. Through speech acts one can attain certain social goals such as: requesting, greeting, commenting, arguing, responding and any other type of communication intent.

Speech acts fall into different conditions, such as formal and informal, direct and indirect. The words used in an utterance can make a speech act formal or informal. For example: 'I know pronounce man and wife' the word pronounce in that utterance creates the formality in the speech act. While informal speech acts are used regularly such as 'Hello, how are you this morning?' Direct speech acts is when a speaker uses an utterance to transfer its meaning literally. Example: 'I am thirsty' While indirect speech act is when a speaker uses an utterance which will sound ironically but transfers a message that is picked up by the listener. For example one might utter 'It is hot in here' by which he is trying to say it is really hot or is trying to transfer a message to do something about the hotness in this room, by opening a window for example.

According to John Langshaw Austin (1962) when an individual is producing an utterance he/she is performing three components which give rise to a speech act. These three components are:

Locutionary act

Illocutionary act

Perlocutionary act

Locutionary act is the actual words that are produced into an utterance, which compile the meaning of the speech act.

Illocutionary act this encompasses the function of the utterance, could be apologizing, warning, requesting etc…

Perlocutionary act is the effect that the speech act delivers to the listener, the individual may for example accept the advice that was given or may reject it.

Speech acts are typically produced in order to convey messages that create communication. Communication usually rests on the illocutionary act and the perlocutionary act. Both acts are vitally important to create the most efficient way of communication.

Clinical Pragmatics (Pg. 52, 53, 54)

The illocutionary force is supported with performative verbs, such verbs appear when a speaker performs an action. The performative verb makes the illocutionary force more evident in order to convey they right message that is intended. An example of a performative verb is the word 'apologize' by saying this word we are representing a linguistic action that is capable of explaining a speech act and expressing it.

John Searle (1969) classified five types of speech acts:






Assertives are statements that judge if the statement is true or false, giving his/her opinion. Example: 'that is my friend's mobile phone'

Directives are statements that encourage the listener to perform a certain action. Example: 'Could you please shut the window?'

Commissives are statements that commit the listener to something that is in the future. Example: 'I will tell Lisa tomorrow'

Expressives are statements that express the speaker's feelings or emotions towards something that has been said. Example: 'He is so amazing!'

Declaratives are statements that results in a change in the world. Example: 'I pronounce you man and wife'

Speech acts are such an important role in communication since it is the gist of all the things that have to do with communication. When an individual uses language to communicate, he/she is certainly making use of speech acts. If a person fails to use verbal communication in other words speech acts, he/she will have to find another source to communicate which may be difficult or not easy.


The expression deixis concerns the use of expressions in utterances, which the meaning can be outlined from circumstances of the utterance. Examples of deictic terms: 'this', 'that', 'my', 'yours'. The most important aspect when using deixis is that both the speaker and the listener must share the same context knowledge. There must be sharing of when and where it was taking place and who was involved during the conversation.

If individuals fail to share the same context knowledge with each other, a problem would evolve and communication fails. Also an individual may be experiencing from a problem called overuse of deictic terms. This is fairly common with everyone and if deictic expressions are not used correctly and are overused, the individual might experience difficulty with communicating properly and efficiently with others.

(Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum, A Student's Introduction to English Grammar. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006) Pg. 101

Politeness Theory

Politeness theory is based on a concept that individuals possess a social image that can be easily threatened by insults. This social image is also known as face which is usually protected by the individual. This theory was recognized by Stephen Levinson and Penelope Brown during 1978. The politeness theory considers that people practice numerous approaches in order to protect the face during discourse. There are certain situations where face-threating acts (FTA) may arise in which the politeness theory will greatly rest on the relationship between the two individuals.

There are three main strategies that are involved in this theory: the bald on-record strategy, positive and negative strategies. Bald on-record strategies, normally may shock or embarrass the individual since bald on-record strategies do not attempt to minimize the threat to the listener. Usually this type of strategy is where the speaker and the listener have a close and good relationship such as family. Positive strategy is used when humor, common ground, compliments are used regularly. This normally occurs between two individuals that share a common social status or between friends. Negative strategy is when apologizing, asking for favors come in place. Usually being polite is saving the 'face' of another, which can be a difficulty for someone with autism for example.

Discourse Analysis

Beyond the general use of the term discourse in which we refer to conversations, it also has a theoretical meaning. Discourse analysis is the study of language from a social context and how cognitive influences are brought about during communication. Discourse analysis covers a vast range of topics such as: turn-taking, storytelling, cognitive strategies and others.

(Clinical Pragmatics Pg. 38 & 39)

Robert-Alain de Beaugrande came up with seven criteria to categorize discourse in 1981.








Cohesion has to do with the actual words we hear or see, which are connected within a sequence. They are also known as the grammatical relationships between parts of an utterance which are vital for analysis.

Coherence concerns the ways in which components in the text are meaningful by linking sentences together. Coherence is achieved by for example using deictic terms correctly, presuppositions and using transitional words.

Intentionality has to do with the communicative intent, they ideas, knowledge the speaker wants to deliver. The message must be both coherent and cohesive in order to fulfill the speaker's intention.

Acceptability concerns the listener. The words that the listener receives must be relevant, the individual also will have to approve it.

Informativeness concerns the expectancy of the listener, the speaker himself must be as informative as possible.

Situationality is when the listener gives feedback by responding if the text is relevant to the situation or not.

Intertextuality is used when the ones using discourse make the utilization of a text which is dependent upon linked knowledge of previous texts.

When an individual uses discourse, he/she has to understand that there are certain rules that one should follow in order to communicate as efficiently as possible. If the person follows the seven criteria by Beaugrande he/she will potentially communicate effectively. Failure to use discourse properly communication will be as damaging as being unable to speak.

Non-Verbal Communication

When human beings interact with each other, they constantly communicate without using words during a conversation, this is known as non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication can be done in various ways such as: gestures, posture, how fast we talk, the physical distance between the speaker and the listener and many others. This behavior is highly effective and normally non-verbal communication does not stop when the individual stops speaking, it comes naturally.

There are three main categories in non-verbal communication:




Paralinguistic concerns the aspects of the speaker's speech, these characteristics may emphasize what the individual is trying to say. For example the individual uses higher volume of speech in order to emphasize his/her point. Other examples are: intonation, fluency, pitch etc…

Nonlinguistic means that language is not used. Nonlinguistic communication is the transfer of information without using spoken language. Nonlinguistic communication plays a vital role during face to face communication since a person might express himself better when using non-verbal communication. Such behaviors can convey messages without even using language; a wink, gestures, and posture are all different types of non-verbal communication.

Metalinguistic is a small unit in linguistics which studies the relationship between language and their success in communication.

Non-verbal communication is an important aspect in communication and important in pragmatics. Thus if a person fails to use non-verbal communication together with his/her spoken communication, the individual might convey his/her message without reassuring the listener since there was no use of non-verbal communication.


As shown in this assignment, the area of pragmatics is extremely vast. Pragmatics is a crucial component in linguistics since it is used by everyone during daily conversations and other social practices. Failure in pragmatics may lead to difficulties in one's social life. It is very important that a person follows certain rules of pragmatics in order to communicate efficiently and effectively.