Could you explain for me what is the main difference between pragmatics in linguistics and discourse analysis? Both are related to study of use of language in real world.


As far as I understand it:

Speaker 1: would you like to go for a drink?

Speaker 2: great! what time?

The discourse analysist would be looking at how this communicative event works mechanically whereas the pragmatist would be looking at underlying (implicit) meanings (in this case 'drink' means trip to the pub, for example).

  • Thank you for your answer. Do you mean that discourse analysis is related to performance and pragmatic is not?
    – zahra
    Mar 9 '14 at 12:24
  • 2
    They are both related to performance (pragmatic=in practice). An analysis of discourse is an analysis of the flow of the conversation itself (direction, intention, premises, conclusions, etc.) Pragmatics is the study of how symbols (words/characters) and meanings are mapped by means of context. A pragmatic question might be, how can somebody understand this despite its ambiguity? (like drink as a beverage or drink as a trip to a pub) Mar 9 '14 at 12:42
  • "in this case 'drink' means trip to the pub, for example", where this case is the author himself. 'go for a drink' can of course mean other things, that's why it's pragmatic to infer from the nonlinguistic evidence like medicine that the autgor is likely low key alcoholic, to be pragmatic. If it couldn't mean anything else, or the lexical context 'go for...' would prescribe this sense as if only alcoholics can go, it would be a matter of semantics.
    – vectory
    Mar 1 at 10:50

As for as I inferred, pragmatic focuses on impliticit meaning that z being conveyed with reference to specific context.. While discourse analysis focuses on communicative aspects..


AFAIK Consider a paragraph of sentences, discourse analysis looks how the sentences are glued together while pragmatics looks on meanings that are not encoded in the sentences!

e.g The teachers allowed the children to play because they are busy in some work! The teachers allowed the children to play because they are too tired to listen to classes!

Here the word "they" means different in the above two sentences which requires external world knowledge! It appears to me that pragmatics is a deeper branch of discourse analysis!


While pragmatics looks at meaning at the sentential level, Discourse Analysis observes wider stretches of expression beyond the sentence and paragraphs.

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