The pragmatic perspective

Jef Verschueren

Table of contents

The view behind this Handbook defines pragmatics briefly as the cognitive, social, and cultural science of language and communication. This introductory chapter is intended to explain why a highly diversified field of scholarship such as pragmatics can be regarded as a potentially coherent enterprise. It presents some historical notes about pragmatics as a wide and highly interdisciplinary field of inquiry; a discussion of problems related to the delimitation of this field as well as to methodology and the status of evidence in pragmatics; a full explanation of the notion of ‘pragmatics’ underlying the Handbook of Pragmatics, i.e. one that defines pragmatics as a perspective on language rather than as a component of a linguistic theory; and a sketch of a proposal as to how such a perspective could lead to a general frame of reference within which a diversity of research results can be fruitfully compared and which may itself lead to the formulation of useful research strategies.

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