Language in Use: Cognitive and Discourse Perspectives on Language and Language Learning

By Andrea Tyler; Mari Takada et al. | Go to book overview

5
Contextualizing Interlanguage Pragmatics

KATHLEEN BARDOVI-HARLIG Indiana University

IN THIS CHAPTER I consider what we can learn about interlanguage pragmatics by placing it in the broader context of communicative competence. What concerns me is not the theoretical positioning of interlanguage pragmatics vis-à-vis communicative competence—that topic has already been explored by others (e.g., Bachman 1990; Canale 1983; Kasper 1997)—but a practical positioning that influences research design, data collection, and analysis. I begin with the claim that, in general, in interlanguage pragmatics the theoretical understanding of the complex interaction of components of linguistic, social, interactional, and strategic knowledge (as demonstrated in introductions and reviews of the literature as well as in survey articles) far outstrips implementation of such frameworks in research questions or research design.

My goal in this essay, therefore, is not to convince readers that communicative competence is an appropriate theoretical framework but to demonstrate the benefit to interlanguage pragmatics research of using communicative competence to map out additional areas of inquiry. Orienting research in interlanguage pragmatics to communication and communicative competence enriches the questions that we can ask about how second-language (L2) pragmatic competence is acquired, as well as our interpretation of the answers; in addition, it also suggests appropriate means of investigation of those areas.

I begin with a section of definitions that are crucial to this endeavor, reviewing the terms pragmatics, interlanguage pragmatics, communication, and communicative competence. The succeeding section provides a brief sketch of Schmidt’s (1983) study as a model for current and future work in this area. After laying the groundwork, I devote the bulk of the chapter to showing what we can learn about interlanguage pragmatics through an investigation of the intersection of pragmatic competence with the other components of Canale’s (1983) construct of communicative competence—namely, grammatical, discourse, and strategic competence.


Definitions

Pragmatics

Traditionally, the study of pragmatics is considered to encompass at least five main areas: deixis, conversational implicature, presupposition, speech acts, and conversational structure (Levinson 1983). In addition, L2 pragmatics traditionally investigates

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