Pragmatics and Discourse Studies

Thu Mar 27 00:05:42 UTC 2008

From: "galey modan" <gmodan at>
To: "Tahir Wood" <twood at>
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2008 11:56:43 +0100
Subject: Re: Pragmatics and Discourse Studies

I think the issue here is that there are broader and narrower definitions of pragmatics, and the Journal of Pragmatics adheres to the narrower defnition. While in Europe and maybe Latin America (though I'm not sure of that) pragmatics covers 'language in use' along the lines that Teun outlined, in the US pragmatics is more narrowly defined as a study of language meaning in use (so pragmatic meaning as opposed to semantic meaning), and generally has a more formal orientation. It's focused more on the mechanics of such phenomena as speech acts, scalar implicature, signalling of given and new information, presupposition, etc. In this perspective, interactional processes such as turn-taking or footing, or other discourse phenomena such as discourse markers, reported speech, pronoun use, tense variation, or framing would fall under discourse analysis but not under pragmatics. Although the _Journal of Pragmatics_ is not an American journal, its take on pragmatics is more narrow and more formalist than, for example, the journal _Pragmatics_. From the brief description you've given, it sounds like a journal like _Discourse Processes_ or _Text_ might be a good venue for your work.
best regards,


On Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 10:37 AM, Tahir Wood <twood at> wrote:
 >>> Federico Navarro <federicodanielnavarro at YAHOO.COM.AR> 03/25/08 6:09 PM >>>
   Now, I'd like to know your opinion about two related issues. First, I wonder if the disciplinary relations between pragmatics and discourse studies aren't also determined by non-theoretical parameters. This is obviously true of any discipline, but I'm referring here to a particularly influential institutional picture. I feel that pragmatics might (just might) be better established institutionally (in terms of congresses, periodical publications, degree subjects) than discourse studies or discourse analysis as such. Therefore, to explain the scope of pragmatics (at least, as a "label") we should probably take institutional factors into account as well.
  This might explain the paradox you pointed out: "At the international congress of pragmatics, many if not most papers are on discourse and conversation". That is, the label "pragmatics" is here in fact used as an umbrella term, not because of theoretical reasons but (probably) because of institutional ones.
 I think there is certainly a point here, and perhaps I should reveal my reason for posting the question in the first place. I submitted an article to the the Journal of Pragmatics, which was subsequently referred back to me for further work, which I am now doing. One of the criticisms of my article was that it was not clear why it was submitted to this journal. Admittedly it is a work in theoretical discourse studies, but when I was looking around for a journal that might be interested in such a work I couldn't find one that specialised in discourse studies of a theoretical nature. So I chose the JoP, and I must say that the editorial staff there did not seem to mind that particular aspect of the matter, so I am proceeding with them. But I really would like to know for future reference if there are any theoretical discourse journals.

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