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(From The Yomiuri Shimbun/Daily Yomiuri)
THE PRACTICAL LINGUIST / Pragmatics is more than just words
By Marshall R. ChildsC Special to The Daily Yomiuri
My mother played basketball for the University of Washington. Back in those days, she explained to me, the center-court line was a real barrier. The rules said that no player could cross it. So some women specialized in offense, on one side of the line, and others in defense, on the other side. The theory was that women's delicate bodies should not run too much. If they stayed on their own side of the line, they would not exhaust themselves.
Those old basketball rules remind me of the present situation of second-language pragmatics. There are two specialties and they rarely cross the line to play together. The better-known is the pragmatics of words, which studies words appropriate to situations, words that can be written down.
The second kind of pragmatics covers all behavior, including the choice of whether to use words at all. I call it "full-court pragmatics," meaning the use not only of language but of all the five senses and modes of expression for interpersonal communication. It is analogous to playing …