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1 - The Field of Historical Pragmatics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2023

Laurel J. Brinton
Affiliation:
University of British Columbia, Vancouver
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Summary

Chapter 1 introduces the field of historical pragmatics. The rise of historical pragmatics in the mid-1990s was the result of changes in both linguistics and pragmatics. In linguistics, a reawakened interest in historical linguistics, combined with an emphasis on language as performance, on the ephemeral aspects of language, on meanings as negotiated in use, with the importance of social and cultural factors in shaping language use, with the increased importance of the analysis of empirical data, made easier by the development of computer corpora, all set the groundwork for the rise of historical pragmatics. In pragmatics, it was the recognition that written discourse, and not just oral discourse, constituted communicative acts produced in a social and cultural context, and was thus a valid subject of pragmatic study. The scope of historical pragmatics spans the two branches of pragmatics, the Anglo-American and the European Continental branch, with two aligned fields – historical sociolinguistics and historical sociopragmatics – having affinity with the latter. The chapter includes an introductory case study of pragmatic markers exemplifying the approach of historical pragmatics.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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