Thoughts: Pragmatics

by Beauchamp Art

Extracts from a conversation

With regards to discourse, if one knows what was meant, then that is the only semantic concern you need to have, this is the basis of pragmatics. Prescriptivism is unnecessary because one can almost always make oneself comprehendible when using non-Standard English. As long as you can be understood, and get across what it is you want to say, then how you say it is not [as] important.


No one uses wholly Standard English, because it sounds unnatural, even in academic writing. Such as using ‘one’ meaning a person unspecified in everyday speech, when generally people use ‘you’; as in, ‘you don’t need socks with sandals’. The ‘you’ does not necessarily mean ‘you’ the person present; it can implicitly mean people in general. Whereas ‘one’ would be more Standard English, it would sound weird, ‘one does not need socks wit sandals’, thus you use non-Standard English, as it is more fitting for the situation, hence pragmatics.
If one is going to make the other person in the conversation feel not at ease by implying authority through the use of the overly formal semantic fields of general discourse, and this is not your intention, then it is more appropriate/polite to use the non-standard. Of one too much of a pedantic prescriptivism ‘snob’, people won’t want to talk to you, which defeats the point of discourse. As social animals, we have to learn how to communicate effectively. Language is not, and cannot, be dictated, or communication becomes impossible. To attempt to overly regulate language can make the ability to convey ideas into words problematic [such as in Orwell’s 1984, or the current situation in N. Korea], and to create a language from scratch does not function [such as with Esperanto]. Language always comes from within a society; it cannot be made externally and be applied forcefully, without drastic consequences.

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