Pragmatics and Second Language Acquisition

Kathleen Bardovi‐Harlig

in The Oxford Handbook of Applied Linguistics

Second edition

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780195384253
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Pragmatics and Second Language Acquisition

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  • Linguistics
  • Pragmatics
  • Language Acquisition



The study of pragmatics is traditionally held to encompass at least five main areas: Deixis, Conversational implicature, presupposition, speech acts, conversational structure. Within second language studies, work in pragmatics is narrower than it is in the field of pragmatics at large, including the investigation of speech acts and to a lesser extent conversational structure and conversational implicature. It is also broader, investigating areas traditionally considered to be sociolinguistics. In the intersection of second language studies and pragmatics, research is best characterized by Stalnaker's definition of pragmatics: “the study of linguistic acts and the contexts in which they are performed.” The most dominant area of pragmatics in second language studies is the study of speech acts. Speech act theory views utterances as not just stating propositions, but as a way of doing things with words; hence the concept of act. Speech acts include five categories: Representatives, Directives, Commissives, Expressives, and Declarations.

Keywords: pragmatics; language studies; conversational structure; conversational implicature; Directives

Article.  4730 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Pragmatics ; Language Acquisition

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