Second language pragmatics




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Peer reviewed



Second language pragmatics, also known as interlanguage pragmatics, “investigates how L2 learners develop the ability to understand and perform action in a target language” (Kasper & Rose, 2002, p. 5). Being pragmatically competent in another language is considered an essential component of being a successful communicator, as outlined in a number of leading influential frameworks of communicative competence (Bachman & Palmer, 1996; Canale & Swain, 1980; Hymes, 1972). These early frameworks advocate not only the importance of knowing the constructs of a language, but having the ability to use language in socially appropriate ways. For instance, when requesting a favour from someone, in addition to knowing what forms and lexis are needed to produce the request (grammatical competence), users need to consider their linguistic choices in light of acceptability of the request according to the local cultural norms, the specific situation, the favour itself, and from whom they are soliciting the favour (pragmatic competence). Both competencies are inextricably linked and need equal attention in the language-learning process. Leech (1983) and Thomas (1983) describe pragmatic competence as the sum of two specific components: ‘pragmalinguistics’ (the knowledge of linguistic resources needed for communication) and ‘sociopragmatics’ (the knowledge of sociocultural rules which govern these resources). Second language pragmatics investigations often draw on these distinctions when evaluating and assessing L2 performance. Recently, second language pragmatic investigations have begun to highlight the interplay of interactional and intercultural competences in the language-learning process given today’s interconnected societies within which language users now operate.



Second language pragmatics, Pragmatics, Request


Wang, Jiayi and Halenko, Nicola (2019) Second language pragmatics: Introduction. Special Issue of East Asian Pragmatics, 4 (1), 1–9


Research Institute